“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

Alleged Okanagan sex offender arrested in P.E.I.

Offences occurred while Ivan Glen Winchester was living in Summerland between 2006 and 2010

Silt slide south of Summerland on Highway 97

Traffic was delayed approx. 30 minutes, not related to rock slide north of Summerland

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death has not been released

Readers weigh in: Should shock collars on dogs be banned?

We asked and you had a lot to say. Here’s some of what

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Kelowna subdivision slope erosion fuels landslide fears

City says up to $1.2 million in slope remedial work is required this spring

Golds basketball team tops rankings ahead of Okanagan Valley Championships

Salmon Arm team heads straight to semifinals after stellar season

UPDATE: Highway 97A reopened north of Vernon

Three people are in hospital following crash that has one in critical condition

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Parole angers parents of Okanagan manslaughter victim

Tal Kalum LaRiviere was arrested in Alberta Feb. 18. He had previously been granted day parole

School district facing capacity challenges

Rising enrolment, outdated data and classroom changes prompt discussions

Most Read