I wanted to share a few highlights from the Broken Group with you all this week as we round out into the final Broken Group Islands journey of the Summer. Next up will be a flurry or Coastal and Northern Vancouver Island trips all the way to end of September.
The Broken Group was where I solidified my desire to be a sea kayak guide with the goal of one day starting a business. After a diploma in Adventure Tourism, and two years of trying every guiding avenue possible, I returned to the ocean to kayak and realized that it had everything I would need to sustain a career. After three years of guiding in the Broken Group and the surrounding area up to Clayoquot Sound, I felt I had received what I needed and sought out new adventures, challenges and ways of experiencing the world of guiding. I worked under a Coast Salish First Nations led kayaking company for a year and then found myself kayak guiding from North Vancouver Island in the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw territory, to Haida Gwaii in the Haida territory, and the Great Bear Rainforest or Central Coast in the Heiltsuk territory for eight more. When I finally decided to take the leap from guide to entrepreneur and owner of Wild Root Journeys five years ago, I knew that I wanted to return to some of my kayaking roots where I was so significantly gifted abundance, a clear vision of what I wanted for myself and an absolute recognition of the medicine that nature can offer us all. It has been nothing short of magic and a sense of second home in these past years.
Last year the Broken Group Islands remained closed and I learnt more again. I learnt what it feels like to not be allowed somewhere and learnt another level of being humble, compassionate, excepting, understanding and patient to the process unfolding in the Pacific Rim Park National Park Reserve. Of all the National Parks in Canada, this is only one of six that also has Reserve in its title. I wonder how many of our beloved National Parks in Canada have been the places of villages, of ceremony, of food harvesting and to where various Nations are working to restore their rights again.
Park reserves are established in accordance with the Canada Park Act and refer to where an area or a portion
of an area proposed for a park is subject to a claim in respect of aboriginal rights that has been accepted for negotiation
by the Government of Canada
I felt more grateful than ever before to be welcomed back to the Tseshaht territory this year, this wild nature, this beautiful, rich, stunning area that has gifted me and so many folks on trip so much. I feel my connection to these beautiful places deepen more and more with each visit and each passing year.
The first journey of the season in the Broken Group was very raw, not just for myself but for many people on trip. It was a shared experience of being together with others after a year that kept us all apart from family, friends and trips like these where many come as strangers and leave as friends. The gentleness, care and openness was beautiful, emotional and ever more felt as we paddled in such raw beauty and walked quietly through forest to old growth mother trees. I personally cried for the beauty of our earth, and the collective grief felt by human kind and for our natural world. I held gratitude for being welcomed back.
My second trip brought dear friends together from across the country and a mother-daughter duo. We had a beautiful experience paddling with the tides and maneuvering with the weather. The absolute joy of the experience was so uplifting. We paddled along Keith Island, and Denis St Claire an adopted Tseshaht, was there to greet us. While we were not allowed on land due to Covid as we had in previous years, he spoke passionately about his archeology work in the Broken Group that spans more than 40 years! Behind him SFU archeology students were sifting through materials brought up from the two shell middens that show sustained human history of over 4000 years on the Island. Denis kept stepping back from the ocean as his talk lasted so long the tide kept rising and lapping over his shoes. Again he stepped back and continued on.
My last two trips were both queer trips. These are incredibly special trips for me. I for one feel wrapped in some of my own community and this collective commonality adds a depth to the trip before it even starts. I love adding another commonality to my kayaking journeys as it has a way of bringing strangers together faster and letting people sink into place together almost immediately. The conversations on these trips, the openness to share in stories, to swim in the ocean together and to express oneself in all of our true colors is freeing, enlivening and such soul food.
I so appreciate everyone that has made the journey to experience the Broken Group with Wild Root and know that a lot goes into just getting here. I feel so honored and lucky to do the work that I do and I will always look forward to more ways to grow in this work, to be able to create space for people to feel safe and included and to continue to give value as a guide, facilitator, business owner and whatever else comes from here on.
The Tseshaht Nation continue to strengthen their presence in governing the area that has been their traditional territory for thousands of years. This year there is a new initiative In the Park Reserve to help with the Beach Keeper Program. This program helps the Tseshaht people monitor the islands in the Summer and off-season months. It is always a gift to see them meet us on trip, always spending time to say hi and sometimes sharing some of their culture and stories. I was asked this year by the Tseshaht if Wild Root wanted to be a part of the initiative to help fund the program. I felt honored that I was asked and immediately wanted to be a part. A small fee of 10$ per day per guest is requested to be here and so far I have only had wonderful feedback from my guests. I feel proud and grateful to have such wonderful, mindful clients. I really do feel a lot of gratitude this year.
An article was published in the Westerly Newspaper this week, and my company and two others also felt this was the way forward. I appreciate their sharing our name in the article and pass it on to you as a thank you as well.
Kayak guiding companies like Hello Nature Adventure Tours, Wild Root Journeys,
and Majestic Ocean Kayaking had no issues stepping up.
“They see the value of the work our Beach Keepers do. These companies are a part of reconciliation,” Watts said.
Until the next newsletter friends. I hope you are finding fuel in the sunlight and ways to enliven your soul. I miss all my American clients and friends and can’t wait to have doors open again to give you a hug. Please leave any thoughts below in the comments. Let the journey continue. Wild Love.