Ahousaht First Nation is found on a verdant slab of lush rain forest brushed by the hard charging waves of the Pacific Ocean.The isolated village on Flores Island has a population of 900 and is only accessible by float plane or boat and is a forty minute boat ride from Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Ahousaht can be translated to mean ‘people living with their backs to the land and mountains on a beach along the open sea.’
Paved roads came to Maaqtusiis with a new housing development in 2012.
In 2013, Get on Board brought donated longboards from Landyachtz for the youth to learn to ride.
Since that time, Get on Board has continued to support the youth of Ahousaht with lessons, skateboard design and mural projects. In the fall of 2015, Get on Board and Landyachtz started an online fundraising campaign to build a skatepark for the youth of the remote island based community, when it became obvious the youth needed more than a few roads to skate.
In October 2015, the Leviathan II, a whale watching boat, capsized in the Pacific Ocean near Ahousaht and made international headlines.
The people of Ahousaht were the first to arrive on the scene and begin rescue operations. A total of 21 people survived and 7 people perished in the horrific nautical disaster.
Dwayne Mazereuw and his wife, Elisa, were among the survivors. Their rescuers were Frenchie and Michelle Campbell of Ahousaht.
Above, L-R, Dwayne Mazereeuw with his rescuers Frenchie and Michelle Campbell at site of future skate park. One month after Dwayne's rescue from the Leviathan.
After Dwayne and his wife went through trauma counselling at home in Calgary, they began to think of how they could thank the people of Ahoushat.
While at work, a colleague passed on a note about a CBC story regarding the efforts being made to build a skatepark in Ahousaht. In a magical case of serendipity, it turns out Dwayne works as the construction manager for New Line Skate Parks. New Line are the foremost builders and designers of skateparks in Canada.
Mazereuw knew exactly how he could give back to the community that saved both his and his wife Elisa's lives.
With the support of Get on Board, New Line , Landyachtz and Ahousaht First Nation, the Ahousaht skatepark was completed.
Above - Ahousaht skate park just after completion. Location,location!
Above - Ahousat youth who participated in adorning the skate park with their artwork.
Above - From Rescue to Ride: New Line's Dwayne Mazereeuw tests out the new park.
This April, Suan Campbell (age 10) grandson of Michelle and Francis Campbell- Dwayne and Elisa's rescuers- will be travelling to Albuquerque, New Mexico home of North America's largest Pow Wow gathering.
Coinciding with the Pow Wow is the All Nations Skate Jam where Suan will represent the Village of Ahousaht.
Above - Suan Campbell skates the park on the day of it's opening.
The Campbell family will be travelling in two vans to bring great grandparents, grandparents, parents and other Ahoushat villagers along to support Suan. The drive from Ahousaht will take four days and money raised will insure that the family can make the journey to the All Nations Skate Jam in Albuquerque on April 25th.
As All Nations Skate Jam organizer Todd Harder notes:
“Skateboarders and Indians have a lot of similarities because we have lived our lives being told we don't want you there. We want you here and do this and we are going to instruct you on how to do it. Well thats the way our reservation life was. And for a skateboarder we have always felt the same because the best places to skate they didn't want us to skate . So our kids really gravitate to it and it is a good test of their warrior spirit. That's in the blood still.”
Skateboarding, Harder has discovered, can be another way of being out on the land , of asserting ongoing indigenous presence and of challenging ongoing colonial ignorance.
The people of Ahousaht live in isolation. The opportunity to take part in the world's largest Pow Wow in North America as well as participate in the All Nations Skate Jam will provide an incredible chance to be supported and cheered on by their peers.
It is hoped that Suan's participation at the All Nations Skate Jam will inspire other youth in Ahousaht to not only compete but to follow their dreams.
Joining the Campbell's on this adventure will be the young indigenous filmmaker, musician and skateboarder Aubrey Brass. Aubrey made the short-form documentary shown above. He will further document their journey of completion and inspiration.
Above, Young Indigenous filmmaker, skater and rapper Aubrey Brass getting set to leave for Ahousaht and filming of 360 video.
Funds raised through this effort will cover the following costs:
- return travel for the extended family, between Ahousat to Albuquerque, by van.
- return travel for the film team (2-3 people)
- hotels and meals along the journey
- entry fees for Skate Jam
- any licensing fees required to document the Skate Jam and the Pow Wow
- editing time for the documentary
Help send Suan to the All Nations Skate Jam to bring a Full 360 to this incredible story of triumph out of tragedy.
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