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VICTORIA – With the heat of the summer sun subsiding the Four Fires Festival on September 10 and 11 supplied the final competitive flame for the 2022 war canoe season. BC Ferries is proud to have partnered with teams to supply travel for competitors. False Creek served as the venue, staging its first official Indigenous canoe race in more than 100 years.
Four Fires was the culmination of a 20-event race schedule that attracted dozens of teams and hundreds of competitors from communities along the continental west coast throughout the summer. Mike Billy Sr. from Squamish Nation whose hereditary name is Lemxacha Siyam was among them.
“It’s the greatest feeling on the planet, when you’re on your canoe and the adrenaline just goes crazy,” Lemxacha Siyam. “I was born into it so it’s the first thing I remember. Racing each other is what we do and it’s just tonnes of fun.”
Siyam is a thread in the historical fabric of the war canoe. He’s a racer, a canoe club captain, and promoter of the sport, but also a seventh generation master builder connecting the people, the land, the water, and the races.
“The canoes that we use come from dugouts, so they came from a tree and the tree has a life, so when we race them we can feel them participating,” explains Siyam. “It’s pretty amazing when you come across a tree that wants to race and wants to win, and you get competitors that want to race and want to win, and you get a canoe builder that wants to make the best canoe. You get those combinations together, it’s pretty amazing.”
It’s a special relationship that established Indigenous peoples as the original mariners of the coastal waterways. As acknowledgement of this and to support and maintain that legacy, BC Ferries provided $10,000 of travel to help competitors get to war canoe races in 20 different communities. It’s one of the larger in-kind travel donations offered under the company’s community investment program and the first time BC Ferries has been involved in the races.
“Our shared connection with these coastal waters makes this an ideal partnership,” says Janet Carson, Vice President, Marketing and Customer Experience with BC Ferries. “BC Ferries values its relationships with Indigenous peoples and this is an opportunity to amplify the voices of the Nations while supporting a meaningful event.”
BC Ferries invests in non-profit groups and community organizations to generate a beneficial social and environmental impact. BC Ferries engages coastal communities and employees to identify community and social investment opportunities in environmental education, health and sport, and vibrant communities. Depending on the initiative, BC Ferries may provide in-kind travel, partner with non-profit organizations on the delivery of programs and services, or encourage employees to volunteer and participate. To learn more about the community investment program visit:
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BC Ferries, Media Relations
Victoria: (250) 978-1267
Victoria: (250) 410-1465
Toll-free: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779)
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