April 7, 2021
Concord Pacific Canoe Cultures Program in Vancouver Receives Blessing from Elder Eugene Harry of the Squamish Nation
David Ju of Concord Pacific was on hand with Master Carver Mike Billy at Squamish Nation Blessing of Future Canoe Build at Concord Pacific Park, Vancouver
David Ju remarked, “We were honoured to have Squamish Nation Elder Eugene Harry bless the canoe mold and the first cedar strip, bringing light and spirit into the Canoe. It is a blessing for us to have the opportunity to always with the Squamish Nation, the community, and especially bringing a positive impact to the younger generations.” David Ju of Concord Pacific was on hand to witness the ceremony at Concord Community Park in Vancouver and present a gift to Squamish Nation Elder Eugene Harry
Master Carver Mike Billy of the Squamish Nation, and five apprentice carvers will create a beautiful canoe that is not only a piece of art, but a seaworthy vessel, learning important work skills along the way. Youth from British Columbia First Nations, primarily Xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Swxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations, will also take part on a part-time basis, learning about canoe carving as well as connecting with their culture through stories and lessons. The canoe has always been an important part of Canada’s Indigenous cultures and Indigenous peoples’ lives. They are still used today because they are strong, light vessels that can be transported easily.
For the past two years, Concord Pacific Developments Ltd. has operated a canoe carving and building program at Vancouver’s downtown Concord Community Park. Concord Pacific’s Canoe Cultures Program is headed by Lead Carver Mike Billy Sr., a seventh generation Squamish Nation canoe carver. Largely funded by the BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, the canoe-building program provides meaningful job skills and experience for unemployed youth and young adults. The improved skills and experience can lead to valuable employment once participants have completed the program.
The program, co-sponsored by the non-profit Western Canada Community Projects Society, aims to provide tools so that the young participants can grow into strong and resilient leaders. The mostly young Indigenous men and women who are participating in the program gain valuable work skills while also connecting to their culture.
Concord Pacific’s Canoe Cultures canoe building program also recently gifted two canoes to the Squamish Nation to be used for youth and community paddling programs, including by its North Vancouver Canoe Club and Mount Chaki Warriors Canoe Club in Squamish.
Concord Pacific Park also plays host to lululemon
and the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival