Big Canoes Building Community

Since 1988, the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club (NCKC) has provided recreational and competitive paddlesports to people of all ages and abilities within the central Vancouver Island region. We are a small, passionate, not-for-profit amateur sports organization that believes in community spirit.

We believe that recreational and competitive sports are healthy ways of building mature and responsible citizens, developing leadership skills, providing social interaction, and promoting full participation in society.

Our purpose is to provide structured programs which offer leadership and encouragement in the development of physical and social skills, with the goal of participating in organized competition, as well as providing access to recreational paddling opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

NCKC is looking for support to assist with the financial recovery of two historic voyageur canoes that were destroyed in a fire incident on Thursday, November 24. These canoes had a great deal of history in our community locally with NCKC, the White Ravens Canoe Club and previously in the races during Expo 1967. Storage has been limited and inadequate for many years, damaging the canoes. In the Spring of 2021, we envisioned getting these boats back in shape and onto the water for more people to experience the sport in a social, stable, and entry-level canoe. A small few volunteers dedicated countless hours, effort and resources to their restoration to realize our goal.

By June 2022, we had one canoe ready to launch for the 55+ BC Summer Games Torch Relay and use in our All Kids Can Paddle Program sponsored by KidSport. The second one was ready by the start of the Club's popular Summer Camp program. The canoes were used throughout the summer for various introductory group paddling sessions and programs, including: Mid-Island Metis Nation, Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island, Wellington High School Outdoor Education class, Berwick on the Lake Retirement Residence, USMA Indigenous Canoe Club, and many more. These have been offered at low cost or no cost to groups.

As said in the title of this project, these big canoes have a legacy of building community. These boats were used to paddle funds raised across the Salish Sea to support the Variety Kids Telethon. They have participated in the Save the Strait Race to advocate for healthy oceans. They have toured Canada's West Coast in the Broken Group Islands and the Gulf Islands with youth members to generate interest and appreciation of our natural environment and develop environmental stewardship.

The loss to community programming and club culture development is significant without these two big canoes. The vision is to use these big canoes to continue to develop relationships with other local organizations and community groups to introduce more people to the sport in an accessible canoe. We are hopeful that with the support of this project, we can bring back popular recreational programs, develop the community, and generate new membership with programs such as the Community Voyageur Challenge and the Youth Big Boats Program.

Fortunately, the club's third voyageur canoe was spared in the fire and will begin its restoration in the Spring of 2023.

With the prospect of the new Loudon Park Activity Centre and Boathouse proposed for 2023, there is a future with secure and adequate storage for the Club in our community.

"Building Paddlers for Life ~ since 1988"

Organizer and beneficiary

Ashley Rowe
Nanaimo, BC
Alea Mills

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