The Tla-o-qui-aht team of eight paddled hard to take the lead. The paddlers are Francis Frank, Don Mickey, Simon Tom, Joenella Frank, Bruce Frank, Iris Frank, Arnold Frank, and Janice Thomas.
Paddles flashed and kingfishers cleared the way as speeding canoes cut through the water in an early morning race on the Somass River.
The exhibition event was scheduled as part of the Tlu-piich Games to see if there is enough interest from First Nations communities to establish canoe races as a permanent addition to the five days of competitions.
"I was glad to see some eager pullers this morning at the canoe races," said games coordinator Richard Samuel. "This is our first year introducing the canoe races back into the games."
Of the three teams participating in the race one was from Tseshaht and two were from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.
"We did provide an extra canoe for anyone who didn't have a canoe," said Samuel. "It was from the Hupacasath. I want to thank them for providing it."
The paddlers arrived back at the marina tired but enthusiastic. "I think it's going to be an event that should occur more often between the Nuu-chah-nulth people," said Elmer Frank from the Tla-o-qui-aht team.
"It's amazing! It felt really good," said Tseshaht paddler Cody Gus of his canoe racing experience.
Samuel said he noticed spectators coming and waiting for the canoes. He saw that as a positive sign of community support.
" So if there is interest the games will continue the canoe races for next year."