Members of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations launched a canoe for Tribal Journeys in 2019, the first time in decades the Pacheedaht participated in the annual event. This summer’s Tribal Journeys event that was scheduled to end in Nanaimo has been cancelled. (Denise Titian photo)
A canoe journey that attracts participation from multiple Nuu-chah-nulth groups as a well as numerous other First Nations on the West Coast each summer has been cancelled amid concerns of spreading the coronavirus.
The hosting Snuneymuxw First Nation announced on Thursday, April 2 that the Tribal Journeys event, which was scheduled for July 27-Aug. 1 in Nanaimo, would not be taking place due to the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19, a respiratory disease that currently has no medical cure.
“Covid-19 poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of paddlers, Canoe Families and First Nations across the Pacific North West,” said Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse. “Given the enormous health and safety risk to participants of Tribal Journeys 2020, we have decided that it is in the best interest of everyone that Snuneymuxw cancel hosting Tribal Journeys this year.
As summer and the warm weather approaches, it remains to be seen if Nuu-chah-nulth and other West Coast First Nations will gather for any traditional canoe journeys. Currently the Snuneymuxw First Nation is stressing the need for all to follow the directives from B.C.’s provincial health officer against gatherings and being within six feet of one another.
“It is a way for our culture and tradition to be shared with the world,” said Wyse of the Tribal Journeys event. “While large gatherings is our custom, the health risk due to COVID-19 is substantial and we cannot bring thousands of people together for a number of days with the presence of the pandemic. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 is unknown and we must err on the side of caution to protect everyone.”