More than 300 pullers, including indigenous Peoples, youth, police, and public service personnel have just wrapped up eight days on the water paddling in the annual Pulling Together canoe journey.
The 19th annual journey, hosted by the Tla’amin First Nation with the cooperation of the Sechelt First Nation, promotes healing, reconciliation, and respect for Indigenous host nations, as well as the sharing of cultures with indigenous cultures.
The eight-day journey began on July 6 in Saltery Bay Park, with stops at Palm Beach, Willingdon Beach, Tla’amin, Lund and Copeland Islands, ending in Gibsons Beach July 12.
One of the “pullers” or paddlers this year was Tsawwassen’s Tim Lorenz, who joined the journey in 2011, the year his father died. He joined after meeting another Katzie family member and said it has given him a chance to meet his Katzie family, make friends, and feel love and acceptance.
“This year marked my eighth journey and my seventh in a row,” Lorenz told the Optimist. “The extra challenge for me was to see whether I could complete it or not. I’ve had a bit of a tough year, but I was able to get a lot of help from my canoe family, so I was grateful for that.”
Lorenz said he keeps coming back year after year because of the friendships and the connections he has made.
“I have three different nations inside me and I didn’t realize I had so many Katzie family members,” he said. “My first year I met so many people who are now a huge part of my canoe family. As the years go by I have met so many more of my extended family and created other friendships. It is just so mind blowing how accepting everyone is.
“It is really good to see the human-side of what everyone would just see as the police also. Being there every year I love being able to re-meet everyone. Every year seems new again. There is an officer named Rick. I don’t see him as just an officer I see him as Rick my friend. It’s all very empowering.”
Since 2001, Indigenous communities have partnered with police and other provincial and federal agencies, including RCMP, Vancouver Police and the Royal Canadian Navy for the annual journey.
The event was inspired by the 1997 Vision Quest Journey along B.C.’s west coast, which saw Indigenous Peoples and the RCMP visiting indigenous communities along the way.