Carver Curtis Henry of Pauquachin First Nation (in blue) explains how to lift a canoe he built with the help of students from Kelset Elementary School. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

North Saanich students, Pauquachin Nation carver launch canoe built together

Carver Curtis Henry: “It’s not just about building canoes. It’s about teaching our culture.”

A project more than a year in the making came to fruition Wednesday morning on the beaches of Pauquachin First Nation.

Working together with Pauquachin carver Curtis Henry, students of Kelset Elementary in North Saanich unveiled a canoe they helped build and watched as it set sail for the first time in local waters.

Built from a cedar tree chosen from the land, in what is also known as North Saanich, the snewel (canoe) took its inaugural voyage from the beach after being lifted to the shore by the students themselves.

Henry shared his skills and wisdom – handed down from his grandfather, also a snewel carver – in a similar project with Bayside Middle School in 2015.

Bringing the next generation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners together, he said, is “the most important thing” because “everybody has gifts to share.”

“It’s not just about building canoes,” he said. “It’s about teaching our culture.”

RELATED: Brentwood Bay school, First Nations pull together for new book

RELATED: The man behind the wheel of a LAU WELNEW Tribal School bus

The project was made possible by a grant secured by the Pauquachin Nation who reached out to School District 63 to work collaboratively.

A project like this wouldn’t have been possible 100 years ago, said Robin Dupree, an Indigenous support teacher at Kelset.

“Now in 2018 our education system is changing. We have strong relationships building with our local First Nations,” Dupree said. “This is an incredible learning opportunity.”

RELATED: First Nations integral to North Saanich’s new addictions treatment facility

Each of the 400 students who participated travelled to Pauquachin on field trips to engage in storytelling and other cultural teachings. The students were present as the tree was chosen and felled and went on to sand and varnish it.

“We are Kelset Killer Whales,” Dupree explained. “A lot of the children remembered the story of the Thunderbird, and how there is a connection between the Killer Whale and the Thunderbird.”

To honour what they learned, the students chose a Sencoten name for the canoe that would carry on that tradition – the Kelset Thunderbird.

“This is an amazing,” she said, “because these are activities that are far and few between.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Almost four of 10 Canadians have unlimited internet data at home

Fifty-four per cent say they telecommute at least sometimes

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

Student Voice: Saanich students launch competitive robotics team

The Reynolds Reybots plan to share their skills with middle schools

Saanich Peninsula 100+ Women Who Care donate $17,000 for centre serving seniors

Mount Newton Centre programs support seniors, caregivers

Crown to appeal acquittal of Victoria masseur accused of sexual assault

BC Prosecution Service review of the ruling found ‘the judgment revealed errors of fact and law’

What are the worst parking spots in Victoria?

We are looking for the worst places in the city to park and need your opinion

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

Most Read