The first ever Upper Fraser Valley RCMP Canoe Family participated in the 20th edition of the Pulling Together Canoe Journey this summer.
This year, the event happened from July 11 to 21.
Together, with Skowkale, Aitchelitz and Yakweakwioose (SAY) Lands and the Stó:lō Spath Canoe Family of the Abbotsford Police, members of the Indigenous Policing Service, Chilliwack RCMP, and Urban Indigenous Policing formed the Bear Clan to embark on an 11-day journey in Secwépemc Territory, Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment (UFVRD) RCMP stated in an Aug. 19 press release.
The group paddled two 24-foot Clipper canoes provided by the UFVRD Indigenous Policing Services. The Schéxwem (West Wind) and Syó:letsep hálp’ex (Wave Eater), named in a traditional ceremony in July 2021, were engineered to reflect the traditional Coast Salish designs.
Canoe families made up of Indigenous youth, law enforcement and public service communities began their journey in Belvedere Park in Enderby with stops at Grindrod Park, Mara Lake, Pierre’s Point and Blind Bay on Shuswap Lake. The journey ended at Green Lake, a traditional summer gathering place for the Secwépemc people. The group witnessed and participated in cultural activities, protocols and ceremonies.
The mission of the canoe journey is “recognizing the past by pulling together to enhance understanding between public service agencies and Aboriginal peoples by canoeing the traditional highway, strengthening our future relations.”
“We raise our hands to the host Nations for their hospitality and their teachings,” said Const. Jaden Courtney, urban Indigenous liaison officer of the UFVRD RCMP. “We are looking forward to growing our canoe family for next year’s canoe journey.”
The UFVRD RCMP said they are committed to building and fostering relationships with all Indigenous peoples including local First Nation communities and those who reside in the urban areas, and were a proud participant in the annual Pulling Together Canoe Journey.
“The 11 days I spent on this journey connecting with Indigenous youth and elders learning about cultural practices while reflecting on the past was life-changing,” said Const. Adison Hiemstra. “The time spent together not only built trust and understanding but also reinforced my commitment to ensuring that more local youth have the opportunity to experience this journey.”
If you are an Indigenous youth, and would like to learn more about joining the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP Canoe Family, contact Const. Adison Hiemstra at Adison.Hiemstra@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.