Gary Manson is hoping an annual summer canoe journey will help Snuneymuxw First Nation youths better connect with their culture.
Beginning July 17, Manson, a Snuneymuxw elder-in-residence at Vancouver Island University, will lead a group of adults and youths 275 kilometres on the Tribal Journey to Nisqually, Wash.
It is expected to last 10 days, with stops at numerous First Nation communities.
At every stop, another canoe will join up for the journey.
The communities will host the travellers and traditional song, music and dance will be shared, said Manson.
“It’s kind of an annual thing now, a resurgence of culture I guess you could say, and bringing back how we used to travel,” Manson said.
“During that time, a lot of culture was lost due to colonization, so with Tribal Journey, we do a thing called protocol, where we sing songs every night and different communities express who they are.”
Youths love taking part in the journey, said Manson, and it is a chance for them to witness their culture, a lot of which is dormant, especially for urban aboriginal youth.
It has a medicine effect for their spirit, he said.
“Everywhere that we land, we demonstrate that pride with our songs and dances and that’s kind of what the canoe journey is all about and this particular journey is one I wanted to do because I wanted some of my family members to be involved,” said Manson.
Talela Manson, one of Gary’s granddaughters, has never been on a Tribal Journey and is eager to take part.
“This is going to be my first one, but what I heard about it is that they’re going to do canoeing and singing,” she said.
Courtney Johnson has prior experience with the journey and is looking forward to another trip.
“I was a paddler. We stopped at different places. We sang and we danced, we asked permission to come onto other people’s lands. It was a really great experience,” said Johnson.
Gary Manson said financing the journey will take a lot of money. A beer and burger fundraiser will take place on May 13 at the Old City Station Pub.
Donations can also be made by going to www.indiegogo.com/projects/snuneymuxw-to-nisqually-wa-canoe-journey-2016#/.
For more information, please call Manson at 250-753-9326.