Ditidaht back on paddling map

Tristan Tate (Ditidaht First Nation), Alex Campbell (Cowichan Tribes) and Robin Mack Jr. (Ditidaht First Nation) receive their provincial championship medals. - submitted
Tristan Tate (Ditidaht First Nation), Alex Campbell (Cowichan Tribes) and Robin Mack Jr. (Ditidaht First Nation) receive their provincial championship medals.
— image credit: submitted

A landmark paddle program launched on a symbolic day rekindled spirits for the Ditidaht First Nation.

Located on Nitinaht Lake and whose traditional territory includes Lake Cowichan, the Ditidaht First Nation reclaimed its love and passion for canoeing on June 11, the National healing Day of Reconciliation, according to canoe coach Jason Anson, when the Nitinaht Lake Paddle Club was born.

The Ditidaht have been paddling for more than 1,000 years but the tradition almost ceased due to the residential school system.

“The Ditidaht people are serious about bringing change to their community as they reconnect with their culture,’’ noted Anson.

“With the help of experts, they deployed an Olympic style training program for their youth over 100 days that included the latest technology and applied sports sciences. This included paddling daily throughout the summer, integrating the paddle program into their community school curriculum and bringing multiple Canadian national team paddlers to visit the semi-remote community to help the kids with training camps.’’

The paddle club used borrowed equipment, Anson added, that allowed the Ditidaht First Nation to claim multiple provincial titles in canoeing and kayaking during both non-aboriginal and aboriginal championships.

Claiming provincial canoe championships were: Travis Edgar (K-1 male under 10 200 metres); McKayla Joseph (K-1 female under 10 200 m); Tyra Johnston (C-2 mixed under 14 200m); Chrissy Edgar, Evaline Charleson, McKenna Watts and Lance John (C-4 mixed under 10 200m); and Robin Mack Jr., Sebastian Sutherland, McKayla Joseph and Cassidy Little (C-4 mixed under 12 200m).

Provincial aboriginal canoe results were: Cassidy Little (K-1 female under 12 200m and 1,000m); Travis Joseph (K-1 male under 12 200m); Robin Mack Jr. (C-1 male under 12 1,000m); Briana Tate (C-1 female under 19 1,000m); Brandon Edgar (C-1 male under 19 1,000m); Chrissy Edgar and Chantelle Tate (C-2 female under 12 1,000m); Sebastian Sutherland and Robin Mack Jr. (C-2 male under 12 1,000m); Jeffrey Tate and Josh Watts (C-2 male under 14 1,000m); Tristan Tate and Tyra Johnston (C-2 mixed U14 1,000m); Elianna Sammuel (C-2 mixed U12 1,000m); Brianna Tate and Darcy Edgar (C-2 female Under 19 1,000m); Brandon Edgar and Ashley Johnston (C-2 mixed U19 1,000m); Chantelle Tate and Josie Marchand (C-2 female Under 12 3,000m); Kyle Mack and Travis Edgar (C-2 male Under 12 3,000m); Robin Mack Jr. (C-2 male Under 16 3,000m); Brandon Edgar and Shayne Johnston (C-2 male Under 19 3,000m); Ryan Edgar and Geoffrey Tate (C-2 male U16 3,000m); and Brandon Tate and Darcy Edgar (C-2 mixed U19 3,000m).

The paddle program will continue building on its success, leading up to the North American Indigenous Games in Regina in 2014.


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