VOTE FOR US! McCammon Elementary and Skwah First Nation: Aviva Fund – River Spirit Project

McCammon and Skwah First Nation: River Spirit Project

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Hi Funds Fans!  No matter where you live, you can vote this project into reality.  Here’s an exceptional example of cross-cultural learning and appreciation between McCammon Elementary School in Chilliwack, B.C. and the Skwah First Nation.  Vote River Spirit!!

Teamwork.  Goal-setting.  Self-discipline.  Leadership.  Self-esteem. These are only a few of the numerous valuable life skills that hundreds of children and youth have gained through their participation in the River Spirit Canoe Program at McCammon Traditional Elementary School in Chilliwack, BC.  A partnership between McCammon School and the River Spirit Empowerment Society, the program has been operating for over a decade.
We are seeking the support of the Aviva Community Fund to achieve our goal to complete the construction of a much needed canoe shed, improve the safety of the canoe landing with the addition of a proper dock, and to purchase new canoes and paddles. This project will not only support the canoe program’s growth, but also the vision to expand the program to include additional schools in the Chilliwack School District and the inclusion of the youth in the annual Chilliwack Landing canoe race and other canoe programs.  Originally begun with just one class of students and one canoe, the canoe program at McCammon School now includes the participation of the entire student body. Each year, the students are provided the opportunity to experience traditional local First Nations cultural teachings and experiences with the members of the paddling community in the Skwah First Nation.
The Skwah First Nation is one of the largest of the 23 First Nation communities within Stó:lō territory. Stó:lō is the Halq’eméylem language word meaning ‘river’ and the Stó:lō people are the ‘people of the river’. The canoe is an integral and sacred part of the Aboriginal history and culture in our region and canoe pulling has always been and continues to be a way of life for the Stó:lō. The River Spirit Empowerment Society, founded by the Williams Family of the Skwah First Nation, manages the school canoe program with dedicated volunteers. The Society’s mission includes empowering youth through canoeing, cultural sharing and community engagement.

Youth participating in the program are not only introduced to canoeing and provided the opportunity to paddle on the traditional canoe trail used for thousands of years by the Stó:lō, but they also experience traditional First Nation drumming, singing and other cultural activities such as beading and uses of cedar. Positive outcomes include:

  • Youth are empowered and gain confidence through learning new skills and how to be safe and feel comfortable on the water;
  • Youth are introduced to a new and fun physical activity and to an active and healthy lifestyle;
  • Youth gain valuable life skills such as teamwork, goal-setting, self-discipline, leadership, cooperation, problem-solving, communication, respect, responsibility, and more;
  • Youth experience a holistic approach to learning and to physical activity that includes traditional cultural and spiritual aspects and teachings;
  • Greater cultural awareness and understanding of the local First Nations community and its history;
  • Breakdown of stereotypes as youth interact and engage with First Nation Elders, leaders and role models

Thanks to the popularity and success of our program, we have grown to the point where we really need to improve the safety of the canoe program by installing a small dock at the canoe landing site, and acquiring new canoes, life vests and paddles. We also greatly need the construction of the canoe shed completed which would not only serve as a storage facility, but also as a gathering place for the program located right at the water. The canoe shed would also support the revival of carving traditional dugout canoes within the Skwah community which would ultimately enhance the cultural teachings and experiences that can be incorporated into the school canoe program.
The River Spirit Project is so much bigger than just helping us build a canoe shed and purchase canoes…  it’s about continuing to build relationships, bridge gaps, and increase cultural sharing and understanding.  It is about utilizing the power of sport (canoe), cultural sharing and community to foster the values on which our learning community is founded:  good citizenship, responsibility and respect. “ It is about encouraging youth participation in sport and recreation, and empowering our children with tools and skills for a healthy and prosperous future.”  Please help us achieve our goals…  we thank you for your support!

Vote here and vote everyday 🙂