Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Cultus Lake

On the water I find peace within myself. Up until the heat wave, I was paddling all the way around Cultus Lake lately almost every day. Some days I follow the beaver. Or have surprise visits from the blue heron and other days the eagles are diving and fishing, singing. I've never heard eagles sing the way I have when I am on the water. It is absolutely beautiful.

There have been several things on my mind lately with regard to Cultus Lake.

1)  Speed boaters can be so inconsiderate of small watercraft, such as canoes and kayaks. They speed by, excessively close and sometimes holler at us as we paddle. It is not only incredibly stupid, juvenile and inconsiderate behavior, it is unsafe for paddlers. I often enjoy surfing the speed boats wake but some of our pullers are young and not as experienced and that is much the same for other people on kayaks. Boaters need to take heed of this when they speed close to us as we paddle.

2) The cost of parking at Cultus Lake. It seems that the Cultus Lake Parks Board has forgotten that they do not own the land and have forgotten that there was a people there long before they arrived. The cost of parking, at $1/hr or $5/all day is ridiculous for people training for sports who are there for 2-3 hours almost 5-7 days a week for as much as 7 months of the year. The traditional war canoe clubs have been training there for over 40 years and even prior to that, travelled that water for thousands of years. Paddling is one form of carrying on ancient traditions of the people now this ridiculous fee is slapped on. The Cultus Lake Parks Board needs to consider another alternative for the canoe club.

3) Cultus Lake is just absolutely beautiful. It is where I find peace. I am so thankful for this life I have been given and for my canoe. When I started paddling and canoe racing, I was given a second chance at life and learned to live in another way, a very traditional way. I suppose up until the point that I started paddling, I was well into learning our cultures and traditions but paddling made me stronger physically and mentally. It challenged me in ways I never would have experienced otherwise and I absolutely love it. I am thankful to be able to practice a sport that is so ancient and rooted within the Sto:lo and Coast Salish culture and way of life.

I think about this as I consider moving home the Nicola Valley. I am so lonesome for my home. I had thought I might move in time to gather but it looks as though that may not happen. I would like to gather sc'eqwem aka shiya or saskatoon berries this year. I will have to find out if they are ready or if I have missed them. In August, I hope to make it to the mountains to gather huckleberries. Sometimes there is just nothing like the smell of sage brush and dust and dry heat.

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