Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pulling Together Canoe Journey ~ Tk'emlups ~ Kamloops, BC

We felt the excitement as we watched the Pulling Together Canoe Journey arrive Friday afternoon, August 3, 2013.  The flotilla of 19 canoes and the many who had worked very hard to make their way here today was definitely something to celebrate as they arrived at their destination in Kamloops, BC.

Several canoes can be seen making their way down the river
Pullling Together flotilla on S. Thompson River
Vision Quest, originated by RCMP Staff Sergeant Ed Hill, was the first journey in 1997 with the intent of forming a good relationship between the First Nations and police forces.  2001 saw the next event which was renamed Pulling Together as it involved several First Nations communities and police forces.  Today the celebration and success continues as the first Pulling Together arrives in Kamloops, BC.
The journey is almost over as the canoes approach Kamloops.
Canoes eagerly pass by
Over the years that the Pulling Together Canoe Journey has been occuring, there have been many different police departments involved from several parts of the province and all pulling together with First Nations communities.  Up to the event this year, these events happened either on the coastal waters or down the Fraser Canyon involving many First Nations from those areas.  2013 is the first one to happen in the Interior and I believe this is a very special occasion and feel fortunate to have seen it.
Waiting the arrival of Chief Gottfriedson of Tk'emlups and others
Welcoming crowd for the canoes and the RCMP boats 
The drummers and a small crowd were waiting for their arrival, which we could see from our vantage point. The police have a power boat to escort the paddlers and offer their help if necessary and made the complete journey with the canoes.  It was good to see that all of the 16 paddlers in each canoe all wore lifejackets.  . 
Several canoes can now be seen as they come around the corner in the river
The canoes are arriving in Kamloops, BC
We’d driven up the South Thompson to get an early look at the flotilla as it came down river and it was great to hear their excitement as they whooped and waved to us standing on the road above.  Their 9 day journey was about to come to an end and they seemed pretty excited to be arriving.   
They ate almost home after days of paddling.
Tk'emlups' canoe leads the way home
The Tk’emlups canoe would go ashore so that Chief Shane Gottfriedson would be able to welcome all the visitors as they each circled past.  Senator Nancy Greene-Raines was also paddling in this same canoe that represents the Tk’emlups First Nations.  
The canoe passes by the Chief with their oars raised
Visitors are welcomed to Tk'emlups
Tk’emlups Chief Shane Gottfriedson stood on the rivers’ edge as all other canoes receive a traditional welcome as they floated by with oars upright.  There were 19 canoes arriving and all would circle in the bay until everyone had been welcomed then they were on their way downriver to Riverside Park for the welcome by the City of Kamloops mayor. 
All canoes will be welcomed before they carry on the journey.
Canoes circle as they wait for all to be welcomed
We were not part of the journey so do not have first hand knowledge of the experience but a chance meeting with Councillor Rod Crowe of Chase, BC did share his experience while waiting for the flotilla to arrive.  Mr. Crowe had spent time paddling in one of the canoes and explained how their day went. 
The canoes are leaving this point for their final lap
They begin the final lap of this Pulling Together Journey
This journey began on Mara Lake and made their way through the Sicamous Narrows to the Shuswap Lakes before getting onto the South Thompson River, visiting several First Nations communities on their way.  They would canoe by day and then be bussed to their camp at night which was relocated to different parks along the route.  Several brief daytime stops were also made including at Chase and on Banana Island.
They make their way to Riverside Park in Kamloops, BC
Several of the participating canoes
There are hundreds of volunteers involved in this whole endeavor.  Many who would look after the camp they set up for the participants as well as preparing food required for all.  There are others who will stay with the canoes to make sure they stay safe overnight while the paddlers get back to camp. A day of celebration was held part way through the journey, a much needed rest, no doubt.  There were sightings of eagles each day of the journey which held special meanings for those involved. 
The final destination of 2013 is just around the corner
The Pulling Together Journey 2013 soon ends
Today marked the arrival to their destination in Kamloops. This Pulling Together event was planned to coincide with the Kamloopa PowWow 2013 weekend.  Chief Shane Gottfriedson invited all paddlers to join the Grand March at the Kamloopa PowWow to welcome all to the celebration of this 34th annual event.

To all those who were involved in the "Pulling Together Canoe Journey", WELL DONE!  I hope we are to see many more of these in years to come and that the welcoming crowd grows bigger to match your enthusiasm.

One more special reason why we call Kamloops home.


  1. Wow Sheila, this is a great post, full of information and makes me quite nostalgic, so the next best way to visit Kamloops and its environs. Your take amazing photos!

  2. Thanks, Lynn! This was an amazing event to witness, I am happy that I was able to pass it on.

    1. Hi
      Does anyone know where there are digital images of Tk'emlups art? I especially think the native salmon on the boat in the last picture is amazing!