Canoe journey a valuable experience

The Wet'suwet'en First Nation along with RCMP organized a 'pulling together' canoe journey from one end of Tsil Kaz Kwah to Kakuz' Whuten.

Wet’suwet’en members pitch in and carry the canoe up from the water.

Wet’suwet’en members pitch in and carry the canoe up from the water.

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation along RCMP organized a ‘pulling together’ canoe journey from one end of Tsil Kaz Kwah [Burns Lake] to Kakuz’ Whuten [Palling].

Carla Lewis from Wet’suwet’en First Nation joined in on the journey, also  representing Carrier Sekani Family Services for the Walk Tall Youth Prevention Program.

“We learned some of our songs and Wet’suwet’en words and phrases over the two days we spent together on the water and we were able to look at the waters from a different perspective, to slow down and listen to the eagles and get to know the mountains, islands, and creeks that sustain us,” said Lewis.

“The following day we went slowly though the narrows where the pipeline is proposing to cross and couldn’t imagine how this beautiful and fragile ecosystem could handle being dug up for pipelines, or worse, filled with tar sands oil from a pipeline rupture.  It would be just as devastating here as it would be out on the land somewhere or out on our rivers. It would be the end of Burns Lake and Decker Lake, which we proved over this journey, can be our highway as it was for our ancestors since time immemorial,” she said.

Lewis said it was extremely hard canoeing for six hours a day.

“We persevered and made it to Palling with our community and supporters welcoming us and singing us on shore.

After following our protocols, we celebrated with a feast, a recognition and reconciliation ceremony, and traditional dancing lead by the Lake Babine Youth Dancers.

The nine youth that participated in the journey were extremely proud of themselves for enduring through such a challenging task.”

Next year they plan to do the same trip with four warrior canoes and more if others would like to join in.

The group included Wet’suwet’en Chief Karen Ogen, Danielle Ogen, Carla Lewis, Stewart Larson, Marcus Nooski, Sampson Wickham, Jayden Larson, Alyssa Larson, Deagan West, William Chelsea, Kirsten Chelsea, Myrna Tom, Charles Tremblay, Kim Sebastian, Marcel William, Kevin Tom and Skipper Cst. Sonderguard.  The support crew included Cst. Coubrough, Cst. Chester Williams, Chris Larson, Hilda Lewis, Levi Lewis and Lexi Larson