Students at a Victoria middle school will be able to take to the water in two new canoes this spring after a blessing canoe ceremony on Friday.
The canoes, donated by the Indigenous Education Department of the Greater Victoria School District, will be used by Shoreline Community Middle School’s Big Canoe Program.
The Big Canoe Program is run by teacher Sonya McRae and Elder-in-Residence Gerri Sam, and involves taking each class from the school out on the water several times each year.
The canoes were prepared by community Elders in Shoreline Community Middle School’s gymnasium, in a ceremony that involved a cedar brushing, witnesses and a naming ceremony.
As a group of students looked on, as the canoes were given the lək̓ʷəŋən names ces (Sea Lion) and tcetceak’un (Mink), which stem from a community story.
Elder Gerri Sam says it’s important to have the canoes blessed by Songhees Elders and that it is a tradition to name canoes.
“Each name that they give them has a story,” she says.
Photos by Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty