What was the role of the canoe in pre-contact indigenous culture? What caused its decline? And how are canoe journeys finding their way back to Klahoose and her sister nations? In this episode, producer Roy Hales outlines the awakening of the canoes.

Awaken The Canoes

Roy L Hales/ Deep Roots Island Waves

“The significance of the canoe was undeniable. Almost every person, or every second person had access to a canoe. We know so little about the canoe culture when you consider that in the totality of First Nations, how important it was. It carried us to food; it carried our relations from community to community; it made economics possible…” - Jodi Simkin, Director, Cultural Affairs and Heritage, Klahoose First Nation.

In 1884: “The Canadian Government decided they were going to keep us restricted to reserves and we had to ask permission to leave. If I wanted to visit my grandmother, I wait for the Indian Agent to come and I’d say, ‘I want to travel to Ladysmith to visit my grandmother.’ I had to get a pass to leave the community.” – Michelle Robinson, Social Development Manager and councillor, Klahoose Nation

The awakening started in 1989, with what has become an annual event for First Nations along the West Coast from Alaska to California. This summer the Klahoose take part in their second tribal journey: the Power Paddle to Puyallup . Washington, where they join in a celebration (July 28 – August 4, 2018) consisting of singing, dancing, stories and sharing food.


Roy L Hales is the President of the Cortes Radio Society (CKTZ 89.5 FM), where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He lives on Cortes Island and is a research junkie who has written about 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982.