**UPDATE - October 23, 2023 ** The NCKC's vision for secure, safe storage for the big canoes is coming to a reality. Two of the three donated voyageur canoes from Pemberton are ready for paint after some maintenance! And yesterday, NCKC hosted the CHEK News staff Paul Haysom and Stacy Ross at Long Lake for a fun race in the big canoes as part of the Island Road Tour.
My name is Ashley Rowe and I have been the Club Commodore for the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club since April 2021. I created this GoFundMe Account after a tragic fire occurred in November 2022, in the big canoe storage shelter, believed to have been started by a community member who was seeking shelter and warmth. The fire destroyed two of the Club's recently restored historic voyageur canoes (replacement value $11,000 each; historic & sentimental value - irreplaceable), along with equipment used to store and transport the canoes. The Club Treasurer (named beneficiary), Alea Macey has been in her role since April 2021 and both of us were previously competitive athletes and coaches with the Club. My history with NCKC started in 1989, one year after its inception and Alea joined in the mid-90's. We volunteer with other passionate people who believe in the power of sport and recreation to change lives and provide opportunity for community development. Our club members are like family and this extends to our provincial and national sport partners. Please join our vision of Big Canoes Building Community Project which aims to promote health and wellness through community development on the water for all ages and abilities.
This GoFundMe campaign is being used to assist with costs associated to bringing the newly obtained canoes from the mountains to the coast, building a safe, secure storage area for the big canoes, maintenance and repair of the current fleet, purchase of new canoe carts to replace those lost in the fire, and support a legacy of funds for the future of big canoe programs and their participants in the Central Vancouver Island region. NCKC will use these funds to provide financial assistance to ensure everyone has access to its program offerings.
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.
This GoFundMe Page was initially created for the financial recovery of two recently restored historic voyageur canoes and equipment onsite that was destroyed in a fire believed to be caused by a member of our community who was seeking shelter on November 24, 2022. Since its creation, there has been great support demonstrated for the paddling community by sentiments, donations, volunteering of labour, and most recently, a physical donation. Not one, but three (3) pre-loved voyageur canoes were given to NCKC by the Pemberton Canoe Association in June 2023. These were put into use right away during the 2023 National Indigenous People's Day event at Swy-a-lana Lagoon in Maffeo Sutton Park (see photo above). Some of the GoFundMe donations gratefully received have been used to transport these big canoes down from the mountains to the coast with NCKC. The Club's third historic canoe (that escaped the fire) is now restored and back on the water with one of the Pemberton canoes being used for summer camps, open houses, races, group bookings, and member programs. Currently, the Club is working on safe, secure storage and a worksite to locate the new canoes in the park.
The two original big canoes destroyed 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, NCKC 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 the 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.
Community programming and club culture development are significant with these 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.
This GoFundMe campaign will continue to support the Club's Big Canoes Program by using funds received to secure safe and adequate storage for the big canoes, to maintain and repair equipment, to support youth sports programming and competition, and provide financial assistance for those in need who would like to access to NCKC programs.
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.
NCKC thanks you for your support with community initiative to building a healthy, vibrant community on the water. There are many benefits to being on, in and around the water....come join us to experience it yourself! See you on the water.
Through waters to friendship....NCKC
Loudon Park, Long Lake
"Building Paddlers for Life ~ since 1988"