Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Open letter to the Community.

The KwuSuknaquinx Canoe Family.

Over the past few months the effort that these young people have dedicated themselves to has been amazing, in truth I have never been around a group of youth with the same level of dedication to their pursuit.
It has also come to my attention that man people in the community may not fully know much about these youth and some of the work they do.
They youth have set out some of their own guidelines that have truly made them unique; the program has been created by the youth. The have sought out and been given direction by the Elders and meet with the Elders from time to time. The youth have expressed the value of these meetings and thrive on that support.
They call paddling “pulling” because the motion used is a pulling motion, and some of our seasoned Pullers are recognized throughout the coast as being strong and known for their impeccable timing and singing.
They group has their own means of self discipline and follow the protocols they have been taught. One such protocol is they need to be drug and alcohol free for a week to pull. One thing that has really impressed me about this is its normal for young people to make mistakes and these youth are no exception. I have witnessed young people discipline themselves in not pulling but attending a practice supporting their peers by watching them from the beach only to recommit the following week.
Time and time again I see these young people become their own support network, don’t get me wrong they fight internally sometimes but they work through so many obstacles and hurdles its truly inspiring. The Canoe family has become in its own way a means for them to support each other in dealing with life’s challenges. Some of these youth have some huge struggles they tackle and it’s within their group they assist each other in navigating the waters of adolescents. These youth know they are not perfect but they are willing to keep trying to be better, and they help each other along the way.
Within their own group certain veteran members to earn specific seats in the canoe have to organize their peers to do a work project. They are not allowed to seek community credit for their efforts some of you may have seen them volunteering at community functions or picking up garbage, but in some way it’s their way of quietly showing their respect for the community. Those that wish to steer the canoe have another task, they spend a month honoring and recognizing their role models and lastly their peers, it’s very humbling experience I know because I’ve had to do it as well.
They are so passionate about their community they wanted to share it with many of their canoeing peers, they love who they are and where they come from and they can’t wait to share it with others.
Recently I have seen the footprint their canoeing has left on them; it’s manifested its self in their school work, their art projects, short films, wood working and poetry.
APTN has contacted us about doing a story on these youth, Joan Phillip and I were talking and I have to agree with her in noting it truly good to see positive News being reflected on this community. The youth are more than aware that they are the product of a strong community; I know they are grateful for the support they have been getting from so many members in the community. One of their favorite experiences is when they take the canoe through the Rez and get thumbs up and waves from everyone that sees them. We have even got the same level of the excitement when we drive through the Similkimeen and OIB. It’s so charging and empowering! It’s an experience that is something that these youth will only get from home. No wonder they are so proud of coming from this community.
These youth sit very close to their goal and are in the last few months of training, school and fundraising. All I can say is I’m very much in awe, these are just regular kids that with the right support from their community, knowledge keepers, leadership, parents, programs and peers are about to accomplish so much. Thanks for the love and support.
Lim Limpt
Matthew Baran,

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