The beauty of the Salish Wind was on full display Saturday as community members from both Ladysmith and Stz’uminus gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the red cedar canoe and its significance to telling the shared history of the land.
Riding the waves etched by chainsaw carver Dan Richey, master carver Elmer Sampson’s traditionally carved canoe points towards Shell Beach and stands on the historic site of a First Nations fishing village.
“The canoe is representative of bringing our communities together,” said Mayor Aaron Stone. “I think it also, as we celebrate our heritage here, over a hundred years of heritage in Ladysmith but over 5,000 years of Stz’uminus heritage here, this not only reflects and respects that heritage but also points to a brighter future together.”
A Canada 150 committee co-chaired by Ladysmith Councillor Duck Paterson and Stz’uminus Councillor Roxanne Harris helped to see the Salish Wind through to completion.
It was first unveiled during a special dinner and cultural celebration at the Stz’uminus Community Centre last November.
Stz’uminus Councillor Terry Sampson, also the grand-nephew of the carver, said while the past cannot be erased pieces like the canoe mark a new history.
“Too many hardships that government has caused us back in the day, this is making a difference,” he said, adding how important it is for Stz’uminus to receive this recognition.
“I’ll be proud to bring my grandson here now and say ‘this is ours too’.”
Special thanks was also extended to Howie Davis, John de Leeuw, Shirley Louie, Chris Baker, and Manny.
Stz’uminus elder George Harris addressed the crowd in Hul’qumi’num prior to translating his words.
“The traditions been passed along from generation to generation in terms of how to do the work in making canoes; Passed on by our ancestors,” he said. “Right now, I’m worried about canoe building because no younger people are taking it up with the exception of Manny’s son.”