“Mother Grizzly”, the Osoyoos Indian Band’s canoe, before the paddlers set out from Skaha Marina for Okanagan Falls on Sept. 15. The paddlers are headed for the meet-up point at Okanagan Falls Provincial Park for the Okanagan Nation’s Salmon Feast. Jordyn Thomson/Western News

Canoes and paddlers set sail for Salmon Feast

Four canoes left Skaha Marina for the Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast in OK Falls

The Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast is officially underway with a group of canoes setting out from Skaha Marina in Penticton for the meet-up point at Okanagan Falls on Sept. 15.

The canoes and paddlers will travel most of the day to make it to the festival grounds. The canoe trip is meant to honour the sacredness of the river and the responsibility we have to look after it.

The event is especially significant for band members in the Okanagan because they of the difficulty it takes to make traditional dugout canoes.

“These implements have been made also impossible for us to create because of logging practices and the fact that our trees aren’t allowed to grow big enough anymore to accommodate the size of a canoe,” said Mariel Belanger, one of the paddlers who hales from Vernon.

Belanger’s canoe is handmade and the skin is made out of ballistic nylon and is semi-opaque. She says the experience of guiding it in the river is unlike what you’d get in a mass-produced canoe.

“It’s very enduring – it reminds us that we have to be delicate. Unfortunately, with fibreglass canoes, it teaches us that we can be rough on the water, when we need to remember that it has a spirit of its own,” said Belanger. “So this framework reminds us how to be delicate and sensitive to the area.”

Related: Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast returns to Okanagan Falls

A group of youth from the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) became involved in canoeing and participating in the Salmon Feast when they procured a community canoe, dubbed “Mother Grizzly”, in 2013.

“This is part of our youth program with the OIB, so when our youth coordinator came to us, he wanted to bring (the canoe program) to our community,” said Sonya Jansen, with the OIB. “So that’s how we ended up getting our canoe.”

Jansen said they can fit up to 13 people in “Mother Grizzly” and their participation is a way to reconnect with nature.

“It’s about connecting to the land and the water, and being a part of nationhood,” said Jansen. “It’s something we’ve done for thousands of years and we want to continue that legacy.”

One group of paddlers was even able to make the trek in a traditional, handmade dugout canoe. Made out of cottonwood, this type of canoe is heavier than those made today out of fibreglass, but is just as easy to steer.

The Salmon Feast will wrap up on Sept. 16 with a feast at noon and ceremony and giveaway following at 1:30 p.m. For more information about the festival, click here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter

JordynThomson

Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Gingras is turning in her leash with animal control

After 28 years, the ACO is leaving her position with Penticton/Summerland Animal Control

Ask candidates tough questions

Municipal election is Oct. 20

Chinese author tackles racism and reconciliation

David Wong says cultural diversity should not be feared

Manfred Bauer seeks re-election as mayor of Keremeos

Bauer has been on council since 2005 and in mayor’s chair since 2011

Arlene Arlow seeks Keremeos mayor role

Candidate has served two terms on Keremeos council

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Man arrested after carjacking, collision, pepper spray attacks in Vancouver

Vancouver police say one man is in custody after a chaotic scene of events in the downtown core

Canadian investigator says World Anti-Doping Agency got a bad deal from Russia

A Canadian lawyer says the World Anti-Doping Agency rushed into accepting a bad deal by reinstating the country’s drug-testing program.

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

New evacuations ordered because of Florence flooding

Emergency managers on Friday ordered about 500 people to flee homes along the Lynches River

B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

B.C. councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read