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Tsleil-Waututh canoe races are back after two-year hiatus

Held at Whey-ah-Wichen/Cates Park, races will run from Friday, July 8 to Sunday, July 10.
TWN Whey-ah-Wichen Canoe Race Festival 2019_5
Tsleil-Waututh Nation's Canoe Festival is back this weekend after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

The North Shore is being invited to Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s first canoe races in two years, after the annual event was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held from July 8 to 10 at Whey-ah-Wichen/Cates Park, canoe teams from all over Coast Salish territory are coming to TWN territory to compete in the carnival.

“We are so pleased that the Whey-ah-Whichen Canoe Festival is back this year after having to take a break due to the pandemic,” TWN Chief Jen Thomas said. “We welcome back the canoe families and are overjoyed to be able to come together on these waters that the Tsleil-Waututh people work so carefully to protect, restore, and steward.”

Teams from other First Nations across the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and Washington state will be camping during the weekend and racing during the day.

Usually attracting 400 racers and spectators per day, the annual event holds races for children, men, women, and masters categories.

Traditional dugout racing canoes are the star of the show, as the boats are super sleek and very fast. Arts and crafts vendors will also be on site, along with entertainment and activities for the whole family.

Angela George, director of community development at TWN, said traditional canoe races have been a vital component of the cultural fabric of Coast Salish people as long as they have occupied the territories around the Salish Sea.

“Tsleil-Waututh Nation looks forward to hosting at our traditional village of Whey-ah-Wichen,” she said.

Weekend race schedule:

Friday, July 8

  • Captains meeting 4 p.m. / races start 4:30 p.m.
  • Estimated end time: 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 9

  • Captains meeting 11 a.m. / races start 11:30 a.m.
  • Estimated end time: 6 p.m.

Sunday, July 10

  • Marathon singles 7:30 a.m.
  • Captains meeting 9:30 a.m. / races begin 10 a.m.
  • Estimated end time: 5 p.m.

Charlie Carey is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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