We invite you and your Grades 3-12 students to experience the Healing Canoe Program, a 7 month Land-based cultural program developed and delivered by Coast Salish Knowledge Keepers based on Coast Salish teachings. Over the course of the school year, you and your students will witness and participate in the transformation of x’pey (Western red cedar) into a traditional dug-out canoe.

This program meets a range of BC Curriculum Learning Outcomes as well as First Peoples Principles of Learning.

Our cedar is responsibly and respectfully harvested from sustainable sources.

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Program Overview

The traditional carving of a cedar dugout canoe is a long process during which powerful and sacred transformations take place. As a cedar morphs into a new form of life—from a tree into a log to and ultimately into a canoe—it absorbs and releases the vital energies and spiritual forces of the lives which surround it. As this happens, transformative life-changing processes unfold. To take part in the Healing Canoe Program is to witness these transformations and to find a sense of belonging in the transformative process itself.

Your class will join Coast Salish canoe carver Beau Wagner and Stz’uminus hereditary man George Seymour on a series of Field Trips to learn through carving, forest walks, x’pey bark weaving, songs, stories and ceremony. Hul’qumi’num language teachings based on Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie and Dr. Nancy Turner’s book Luschiim’s Plants-Traditional Indigenous Food, Materials and Medicines are woven throughout. This program is based on knowledge from the Land and is delivered by people who live on the Land and whose ancestors have done so since time immemorial.

The Healing Canoe Program is grounded in deep acknowledgment of all Beau’s ancestors and in particular his mentor, the late Stz’uminus Master Carver Elmer Sampson. Beau’s mentor taught him infinitely more than just about carving. He passed along Coast Salish values of respect, accountability, commitment, sacrifice, honour, generosity, and above all, love and belonging.

Our Teacher Film

Watch Our Teacher, the documentary film capturing the spirit of the Healing Canoe program. Beau Wagner honors his late teacher’s wish by carving a canoe on Gabriola Island with local elementary school students.

For viewers in Canada, watch here. For viewers in the U.S., watch here.

Program Guidance

Cost: This program is free of charge. (Transportation fees are not covered).

Eligibility: Open to students in grades 3-12. Preference will be given to classes with Indigenous students.

Capacity: Note that we can serve up to 30 students per workshop.

Dates: This program runs the entire school year. Specific in-person events will be scheduled with you.

Booking: To book the Healing Canoe Program for your class or school, please fill out the form below.

Huy ch q’a! (Thank you!)

Interested in the Healing Canoe Program for Your Students?

Thank you for your interest in the Healing Canoe program. The Healing Canoe program starts each September, but opens for booking much earlier. Please complete the form below to be notified when the next program is open for booking.

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