Starting July 18, hundreds of canoes will be launching into the Pacific Ocean bound for Swinomish, Wash.
From the Ladysmith area, around 25 paddlers will be taking to the sea in Russell Robinson’s hand-carved 40-ft. dugout canoe. They will be leaving from either Transfer Beach or the Maritime Society.
In all, a team of 40 people are needed for ground and water support.
“It’s different for everyone,” said Lisa Robinson on the significance of the journey. Last year, they took a group of youth from the area, some as young as 11.
“For them it’s about really finding out what their strengths are. We all have to work together on that canoe,” said Robinson of the 2010 trip.
“Going through everything they went through and making it there (Neah Bay, Washington) was really exhilarating for them.”
And for many of the First Nations paddlers, it’s about getting in touch with their culture.
The Tribal Journeys have been going on for more than 15 years.
“Each year, different tribal nations hold it. For the last five years, we’ve been down in Washington area,” said Robinson.
Canoes from as far away as Alaska take part in the journey.
“There’s usually about 120 canoes that gather,” said Robinson.
The trip is scheduled to take around seven days with the canoe set to arrive on July 25.
“They go through their whole protocol where each canoe is welcomed by the whole community that we go into. It takes all day.”
They also camp in different communities on the way down the coast.
The group is currently trying to raise $7,500 to make the trip.
Robinson wants Ladysmith’s involvement in the Tribal Journeys to be a community-building exercise and she is hoping people from all walks of life, not just First Nations, take part in the trip.
“For the town of Ladysmith to kind of connect to that canoe.”
Any youth, up to around 25 years old, is welcome to take part, but they have to help the process and the fundraising. They can’t just jump in the canoe on July 18 said Robinson.
Leading up to the launch, there will be some practice paddling and other events.
To be a part of the project, try a test paddle, or help fundraise, please call Robinson at 250-245-2152.