Beatrice Bernhardt, an Inuk Elder, had the opportunity to share stories from her childhood while canoeing on Great Slave Lake.
“Mostly about when I was a little girl and when we used to live out and camps and there was really no communities, and how when I first saw the white man on an airplane and all that stuff and how change came so fast,” she explained.
Bernhardt took part in the Intergenerational Voyageur Canoe event organized by the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre on Monday afternoon.
The project is called Hazhǫ Ełexè Łets’eèzhe in Wıılııdeh, which translates to “we all grow together” or “we are all connected.”
“Reconciliation is a huge, huge focus of the project and working together in a canoe. Building those respectful relationships and creating those connections is a step in that that direction,” said Christina Moore, an organizer of the event and the coordinator for the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre.
Rain greeted the attendees just before launching, but things did clear and the sun shone through as the boats took off to the music of fiddlers onboard. Around 40 paddlers canoed around Jolliffe Island, under the causeway and into Back Bay.
“It’ll be an opportunity for conversations about the past, present and then the future,” Moore said.
The event used voyageur canoes from NARWAL Northern Adventures, an important historical and cultural water vessel.
“So traditional mode of transportation, the voyager canoe. Lots of history there and you can fit quite a few people in so it’s a great vessel to have a lot of people get together and connect,” Moore said.
Bernhardt agreed the canoe is an important part of their history.
“We’re part of the water, we come from the water and we also come from land. And canoeing brings us back to just fun and learning how to do things,” she said.
Bernhardt said she loves having the opportunity to share her stories with youth.
“I just want them to know a little bit of their history and be proud of the little accomplishments that go along the way and pass along,” Bernhardt said.