900-pound canoe carved by Westbank First Nations youth

900-pound canoe carved by Westbank First Nations youth

The carving started after a blessing ceremony

A 900-pound log gifted to the Westbank First Nation (WFN) is about to become a beautiful canoe in the next few weeks.

Nicole Werstuik, the youth and recreation programming manager, said the log came from the Mt. Boucherie Secondary School’s Aboriginal leadership class.

She said they received the log in January, which had been sitting in their public works yard until Tuesday, July 14.

“I was fortunate enough to collaborate with our intergovernmental affairs department with a culture and language grant,” Werstuik said.

“That’s how I was able to hire two facilitators, master carver Frank Marchand and his apprentice Will Poitras.”

She said elder Wilfrid Barnes blessed the log and smudged the carvers and other youth participants, wishing them good health to help them put positive energy into the log as they carve.

“Our WFN youth works group started carving it along with Frank and Will. Other community members are also invited to come down and see what’s going on.”

“The men’s wellness group came down, as well as some council members first day we started with a saw, chopping off the top and digging in there,” she said.

The canoe has been named kwkeyuma? snk’lip, after two baby coyotes that were seen visiting the log before the project started. Werstuik said the goal is to finish carving the canoe by the end of August.

There will be another blessing ceremony as kwkeyuma? snk’lip is introduced into the water at the end of the project.

Community members interested in seeing the canoe’s progress are welcome to come down to the public works yard from Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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