Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents gathered together last Wednesday night to witness the unveiling of the ‘Salish Wind’ – a stunning canoe carved of red cedar that will stand as a lasting legacy of the partnership formed by the two communities.
The canoe was carved by elder and master carver Manny Sampson with the help of his brother Elmer and many others from Stz’uminus over the past six months.
Ladysmith residents even had an opportunity to meet with Manny and carve at bit at the Canada Day celebrations at Transfer Beach this past summer.
Councillor Duck Paterson who was just one of several who helped spearhead the project said this builds on the “good relations” that the town and Stz’uminus have fostered over the past number of years.
“We’ve worked together on governance and planningand it’s been a good thing. The canoe project has been an opportunity to work beyond the ‘governance’ side of relations. It’s been, I believe, a start to working on a neighbour to neighbour partnership,” he said. “Finding out more about people is a great experience and I really hope that this will continue with more and more Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents. This will lead to more ‘neighbourhood parties’ together.”
Last week’s unveiling featured a special dance from Stz’uminus children who practiced hard to perfect the performance that was witnessed by over a hundred residents of Stz’uminus and Ladysmith.
Everyone also dined on a feast of salmon, deer jerky, oysters and bannock, among other treats.
Several people who helped in seeing the canoe project through to completion where presented with paddles adorned with beautiful First Nations artwork.
Stz’uminus councillor Roxanne Harris summed up the partnership between the communities.
“We paddle together, we work together and we’re going to move mountains together,” she said. “We’re a team, all of us, and symbolically this canoe is going to help us move forward and these paddles are going to help us all move forward.”
The waves created by Nanaimo chainsaw carver Dan Richey have already been placed near the paved parking lot at Transfer Beach and will act as the base on top of which the canoe will be installed.
Edward Joe did the artwork along the side of the boat. The process moved quickly after the huge red cedar log was cut down last summer. Gordon Crocker power sawed the canoe down to the canoe shape in three days, with the guidance and teachings of Manny, plus with the help of Shaun Crocker, Damien Crocker and Ray Harris.
Ladysmith’s community services coordinator Anita McLeod and Stz’uminus recreation coordinator Shirley Louie were also key to the organization of the project.
Louie even had the opportunity to work alongside Sampson, who is in his mid-80s, and said it’s important to take the time to learn the craft from these master carvers.
“Every day we took great pride in his teachings,” she said. “Manny never said no you’re doing it wrong, do it this way. Instead he taught us the right way to hold our tools and how to cut the log… I’ve learned that it’s very important to keep the culture alive and to learn as much as possible, to hand down to the next generations to come.”