TimberWest was a proud sponsor of the Standing Together Tribal Journeys 2017 event hosted by We Wai Kai Nation & Wei Wai Kum Nation from August 5th to 10th.
The event was a tremendous success with hundreds of Canoe Families, guests and visitors partaking in the celebrations.
Over the August long weekend, TimberWest attended the Canoe Family welcoming ceremony in Campbell River, where we raised a large 10 foot by 6 foot life-sized picture frame crowned by a canoe that was carved and painted by artist Mulidzas-Curtis Wilson, Acting Chief of the Wei Wai Kum Nation.
People from all over came to #FrameTheMoment, and Lydia Johnson – a thirteen year-old whiz-kid and photographer-extraordinaire – helped TimberWest capture some of those precious moments.
Lydia had such a great time documenting the celebration that we asked her to share her Tribal Journeys experience through a photo-journal.
Tribal Journeys 2017 – Gilakasla, Welcome!!
by Lydia Johnson
I grew up in Vancouver, and now I live in Montreal. This summer I came home to visit friends and family in BC, and what a summer to have come home!
I got to Campbell River on Friday, August 4th and we started constructing and building TimberWest’s large life-sized frame.
The families on the beach at that time were immediately drawn to the frame to take their pictures. I didn’t know just how many people the Dick Murphy Park in Campbell River would come to welcome. All I knew was that it was expected that about 100 Canoe Families were going to land at the Dick Murphy Park in Campbell River as the final port-of-call.
Tribal Journeys included Canoe Families from all over the BC Coast, Washington, California and Alaska. These families had paddled their canoe for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers! And Campbell River was going to be the final port where everyone could visit, eat, relax and have fun for 5 days.
We raised the life-sized frame on Friday, August 4th, and had Mulidzas-Curtis Wilson hang his canoe and sign the frame. As you can see in the background, nothing else was set-up!
On the morning of Saturday, August 5th we got back to the frame. My mom had to get on a ladder and mount the canoe and that is when I met Elcee! Elcee greeted me with a smile and gave me a hand to help stable the ladder my mom used to mount the beautiful canoe. Throughout the day Elcee wandered and enjoyed this hazy – yet beautiful day. She met some new people, listened to the wonderful music and took-in the view – but in between it all she managed to come by to say hello and send over that same smile that made my day even better.
In this #FrameTheMoment picture, a mother and her daughters were lit up with pride and excitement, wearing ceremonial regalia that represented their nation. The mother (pictured right) is from Liquiltach territory (also commonly spelled Laich-kwil-tach) which is part of the Wei Wai Kum and Wei Wai Kai bands in Campbell River and Quadra Island. However, she married a man from the Gwasala ’Nakwaxda’xw’ Nation near Port Hardy and now her daughters (pictured left) share both ancestry.
The day started at around 10am and everyone was preparing for the protocol and the arrival of paddlers from Cape Mudge. Things began to take shape – and as you can see in the background some tents were placed to act as the staging area for the welcoming. And even further in the distance you can see heads, and umbrellas of the crowds of people starting to line the beach to get right-in-the action and welcome the canoes. I stood by the frame and offered to take photos of family and friends so that everyone could be in the shot together for this memorable day (I am standing on the right).
This photo was taken before the beach became swarmed with hundreds of people. As you can see in the distance on the water, there are several Canoe Families in procession waiting to be called to the beach for their welcoming.
The welcoming began at around noon and the last family was called to the beach just before 5pm. Every Canoe Family got their own welcoming.
At around 1pm, hundreds of people were gathered on the beach to watch the last of the canoes come in from all over the pacific coast.
Something about this moment made me fall in love with First Nation culture even more. Maybe how when a new canoe came in, everyone clapped and cheered which created this sense of community I’ve never truly experienced before. All I know this will not be the last time I am going to Tribal Journeys.
I was lucky enough to snap this shot as paddlers carried their canoes from the shore to be transported away before protocol continued and celebrations commenced in Campbell River at the host Nation’s Wei Wai Kum Big House.
Each Canoe Family had many members on their team. This meant that there were always fresh paddlers to take over – because some families and hundreds of kilometers to paddle to get to Campbell River! – and help carrying the canoe, or drive family members, or drive in support boats to watch over for safety.
That Canoe probably weighs 600lbs. Imagine lifting that on your shoulders!
As they day went on I continued to take photos of friends and family so that they could all get a photograph to remember this important day. It was a lovely feeling to help families and friends honour this special day by taking their photos, and then emailing the picture. For some people this was their first Tribal Journeys experience and it meant so much to them that they could be part of this day.
Protocol started mid-afternoon. This meant that each Nation was introduced, giving them an opportunity to address the other Nations and share songs or poetry and passages in their own indigenous language.
Vince Smith of Ehattesaht tribe in the Nuu-chah-nulth territory stopped by. Vince will be featured in the First Nations Cultural Art Showcase in September at Vancouver Island University. Although his heart was heavy from recent news of a relative’s passing, he was excited to be part of the day’s celebrations.
Vince’s cousin Eddie from Ahousaht was by throughout the construction of the frame and visited frequently. He was one of the first people that I saw arrive to welcome the canoes. At the end of the day he brought over his nation’s flag to show us. Eddie runs a water taxi service that brings people from the mainland at Ucluelet over to Ahousaht. His friendly nature must be nice for the people who use his taxi service.
As people were leaving the area to move to the Big House for some well-deserved food, people continued to #FrameTheMoment with their canoe families, guests and friends.
We had several families #FrameTheMoment, and all of them were excited for the celebrations to begin!
I almost forgot to take a picture of my mom (lady in the denim jacket). We all had a laugh when we saw this photobomber making the moment! I think this is one of my favourite shots from the day.
To learn more about Tribal Journeys 2017 please visit:
And check out TimberWest’s Facebook page for more photos! https://www.facebook.com/TimberWestForestCorp/