August 10, 2006
FORT RUPERT - After paddling a canoe more than 1,000 miles, seven Port
Hardy teens are celebrating their accomplishments.
"We're going to celebrate we've come home," says Amanda Williams after
the canoe was welcomed ashore by Chief Tony Hunt (Nakatynkim) at Fort
Rupert Saturday. "Our chiefs are going to hold us up because we have
paddled 1,000 miles."
The group spent two and a half weeks paddling Fort Rupert's traditional
canoe from Campbell River to Muckleshoot, near Auburn, Washington where
they took part in suicide awareness training.
With only a day or two of training, the youth put in up to 15 hours of
paddling a day.
"When we first started it took us two hours just to paddle to Shell
Island and back, " laughs Man-tli-das Wallas. "Now it's just like
'whoosh'. We're professionals now."
With the experience behind them, the seven teens will now be part of
ASCIRT - Aboriginal Suicide Critical Incident Response Team. The youth
were chosen for the journey and the training through their involvement
with the Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre.
The training was sponsored by the Inter-Tribal Health Authority.
"Now we are a part of the suicide awareness team, so anyone who feels
suicidal, we can help," says Logan Wilson.
Hunt expressed pride in the youth when welcoming them ashore.
"We are very proud of the journey you have made, and they you made it
safely," Hunt told the crowd gathered on the beach at Fort Rupert. "What
you have done ... it is very important."
Other participants were Genesis Hunt, Wallace Bernard, Robert Speck,
Thomas Williams and Tommy George.