The Canoe Journey brings together thousands of Native peoples from Tribes and First Nations of the Pacific Northwest to travel by ocean-going canoes sharing culture through songs, stories, and dance. The Journey lasts multiple weeks and ends at a designated host Nation, this year, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
The Canoe Journey, a Pacific Northwest Coast Native tradition, has been revived over the last twenty years by elders, youth and families seeking a return to healing and unity through culture. Mary McQuillen, a Canoe Journey elder speaks of the origins of the Canoe Journey resurgence,
“The Journey started in Bella Bella by sending a young man who was 14 to an island to fast, pray and to bring back the songs to him. He challenged us to bring back the long, long journey. We started with maybe 50 people and now there are tens of thousands who come into a village — from 1973 when an old one hundred year-old canoe went back to a Native village. The Journey solves the problem of alcohol and drugs, by asking, just for this journey, will stay drug and alcohol free.”
Throughout the Journey cultural protocol is followed at each landing, when canoes request permission from the host Tribe to come ashore. Cultural protocol regarding respect for the Canoe, the water and fellow Journey members is also adhered to.
The Canoe Journey unites Native people and our communities, both Native and non-Native together for a spiritual and cultural experience based in tradition we welcome you today and thank you for joining us in this Journey to the shores of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.