Tunstall Bay will have a visit the likes of which it hasn’t seen in 20 years this Saturday.
As community members, RCMP and other dignitaries gather on the beach, Alroy (Bucky) Baker a council member of the Squamish Nation chief and council, will welcome four canoes and 32 paddlers from the Pulling Together program.
In the Pulling Together program, RCMP members and First Nations people, particularly at-risk youth, paddle together in traditional replica Pacific Northwest canoes in an exercise in reconciliation. In paddling together, the hope is to build relationships across an institutionalized barrier.
Though there’s a longer trip every year (an endeavour of a week or so, where participants, camp, eat and paddle together), the visit to Bowen is just a day trip.
“They have First Nations youth paddle to different locations and so we’re one of the stops,” says Kim Selody, co-chair of the Tunstall Bay Community Association (TBCA), which is organizing the event.
In the Tunstall Bay clubhouse, there’s a piece of artwork done by retired RCMP officer, and founder of Pulling Together, Ed Hill. Hill presented the artwork to the association upon the occasion of a Pulling Together visit in 1999.
This time, the visit will involve a welcoming ceremony, a blanket ceremony, both performed by Baker, and lunch.
Ten Bowen Islanders will be blanketed, including Mayor Gary Ander, Ian Thompson (retiring fire chief), Sgt. Gareth Bradley (RCMP), Gerry Webb (an original paddler), Pauline Le Bel, Adam Koehle (RCMP Bowen Island), Gai Coutts (committee chair, TBCA), Mizuki James and Ryuki James.
Baker says that the ceremony is to thank these people for who they are and what they do for the community.
“We’re saying we love you. We care for you. We want to put this protection around you so that nothing will happen to you,” he said.
The event is Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. and tickets are $20, available at the pharmacy or at the gate.