Community Paddle for the Coast

What: A community paddle in the Victoria Harbour to raise funds for First Nations who are challenging the Trans-Mountain Pipeline Expansion in Court

Where: Leaving from and returning to Banfield Park Dock, Victoria West

When: Saturday, Dec 14th, 10 am

Join & Share the Event on Facebook!

The election is over, and Trudeau is still promising to complete the government-owned Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion without the consent of many First Nations. Construction is already starting along many parts of the route. In response, First Nations like the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater are taking the government to court to enforce their rights and protect our coast. These court cases may be our best shot of stopping this pipeline before it causes irreparable environmental damage.

Raven Legal Trust is raising funds to help First Nations pay for these legal challenges through their campaign – but so far, they are less than halfway to their fundraising goal. With hearings scheduled to begin as soon as Dec 16th, the time to stand in solidarity with First Nations is now.

On Saturday, Dec 14th, join local kayakers, canoeists, first nations, environmentalists, and concerned residents of all kinds at Banfield park for a family friendly community paddle in the Victoria Harbour. The event will feature a 1 hour paddle, a large on-the-water banner, and a community meal. All proceeds will go to Pull Together to fund the fight to protect our coast.

If you plan to paddle, please read the Safety Policy and print out and complete the Participant Consent Agreement. To participate in the Paddle, a signed copy of the Participant Consent Agreement must be handed in to organizers before leaving the dock on Dec. 14.

We are also encouraging everyone who plans to paddle to sign up at to mobilize Pledges from family members, friends, neighbours and co-workers in support of the First Nations legal challenge to the pipeline.

To volunteer with the Paddle, contact

Sponsored by: Rise and Resist, the Social Environmental Alliance, Turning the Tide, Climate Justice Victoria, Greenpeace local group, the Seawolves, and Surfrider Vancouver Island.

We respectfully acknowledge that this event is held on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen peoples of current-day Songhees and Esquimalt nations, who have carefully stewarded these lands we all now call home since time immemorial and since first contact have resisted the colonial system that has brought the biosphere to this tipping point.

Fundraiser for ȽEL,TOS: an evening of art and gratitude

Dear Paddlers,

I hope this message finds you well.

This note is to invite you to a Tsawout Nation event (see attached poster) that will acknowledge those who took part in the Sept. 2 “Paddle for ȽEL,TOS,” and will also continue to raise funds for Tsawout’s legal efforts to reclaim James Island.

EVENT: Fundraiser for ȽEL,TOS: an evening of art and gratitude
DATE:   Thursday, November 29
TIME:    6:00pm
PLACE: Tsawout Nation – auditorium (7728 Tetayut Rd, Saanichton) 

W̱SÁNEĆ knowledge-holders will describe Tsawout’s historic and contemporary ownership of ȽEL,TOS, and will explore significant elements of Tsawout’s culture. An Indigenous vendors’ market will be set up (a great opportunity to get holiday shopping done, while supporting the local community), and video footage of the Sept 2 “Paddle for ȽEL,TOS” will be on display.

Bring cash for 50/50 tickets, “Paddle for ȽEL,TOS” posters, raffles and gift-basket draws. 100% of the profits (not including vendors’ market) will go to Tsawout’s legal claim. Tickets are by donation, starting at a minimum of $10. Suggested donations:

-student: $10
-professional: $100
firm or organization: $500
-FREE for WSANEC people!

Get a ticket or make a donation at:

It would greatly help our small volunteer team if you can share this information with your networks, and place the attached poster in your workplace (if appropriate) and community. There is also a Facebook event that we kindly ask you to join and share with your networks, friends and family:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Sarah at or at 250-726-3794.

All the very best,

Sarah Robinson + Meena Ansari
UVic Law Students

Highlights from the Paddle for ȽEL,TOS and the Salish Sea

Watch this video / photo compilation of highlights from the Paddle for ȽEL,TOS and the Salish Sea, on September 2, 2018! Thanks to Brian Rundell for putting the video together and shooting the footage.

What a powerful and inspiring event in support of the call of the WSÁNEĆ People for the return of ȽEL,TOS (James Island) – with 280 Paddlers in 95 boats on the water (including eight big canoes and the barge with the Elders), and 400 people packed into the Tsawout Gym for the community meal and presentations. Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed toward the success of the event!

ȽEL,TOS Paddle follow up

LEL,TOS Paddle


Thanks to everyone who participated in the Paddle for ȽEL,TOS and the Salish Sea on September 2, 2018!

What a powerful and inspiring event in support of the call of the WSÁNEĆ People for the return of ȽEL,TOS (James Island) – with 280 Paddlers in 95 boats on the water (including eight big canoes and the barge with the Elders), and 400 people packed into the Tsawout Gym for the community meal and presentations.

We would like to supplement everyone’s inspiring memories of the day with an audiovisual archive, so please take a moment to upload any photos or videos to the ȽEL,TOS Paddle Photo Archive. You can create a new folder with your last name and then upload photos and videos there. Alternately, you can send photos and videos directly by email attachment to:

If you would like to provide additional support to the Tsawout First Nation to assist with research and legal work required for the ȽEL¸TOS claim, please mail a cheque made out to “Tsawout First Nation” (with the memo line “ȽEL¸TOS”) to Tsawout First Nation, 7728 Tetayut Road, Saanichton, BC V8M 2E4.

Finally, we are beginning to turn our minds to a Paddle for the Salish Sea in 2019. Please let us know if you are interested in volunteering and getting involved, by emailing

HIS’KWE / Thank you again for your contribution to the ȽEL,TOS Paddle!

In Solidarity,

Paddle for ȽEL,TOS Organizing Committee

Hundreds attend paddle event supporting Tsawout First Nation reclaiming James Island

A return to a rightful owner? That’s the issue at hand when it comes to an island off the coast of the Saanich Peninsula. Sunday, hundreds gathered in boats around ȽEL,TOS or James Island. All in support of the Tsawout First Nation’s claim to land that now belongs to an American Billionaire. Luisa Alvarez was there.

By Luisa Alvarezon, Chek News, September 2, 2018

ȽEL,TOS or more commonly known as James Island is privately owned and has been for 150 years. But before that, the Island belonged to the Tsawout people and they want it returned.

“The island has been a part of our traditional territory right from the beginning of our creation so we have made an assertion to claim it back,” said elected Tsawout councillor Mavis Underwood.

Over 200 people attended the demonstration to support the claim that is now before the courts, including federal green party leader Elizabeth May.

“It’s a triumph that indigenous peoples in Canada have held onto their culture their language their traditions and even fragments of land being restored is an important step forward,” said May.

Many who attended took to the water at Cordova spit in canoes, kayaks, and boats for the four-hour journey around the island in solidarity with the people of Tsawout First Nation.

“It shows that settler people like me are allies with indigenous people and that our communities coming together in solidarity to repair past wrongs and build respectful relations moving forward,” said volunteer and Victoria City Councillor Ben Isitt.

Not only does the Island have archaeological significance to the Tsawout people it was traditionally used for fishing hunting and gathering because it’s rich in plant-life and seafood.

Although the Island has had significant ecological impacts due to past industry.

“Right now there are golf courses, there’s resorts… [on the Island] they made one-tenth of the TNT that was exploded on the western front by the British empire and then they made paint for half a century,” said Isitt.

Underwood says if returned restoration and decontamination would be a priority.

“We want to see people really proud of what’s provided in the water it’s all very important for us to be able to educate the young people to inspire them and have our way of life continue,” said Underwood.

Tsawout First Nation invites community to join September 2 paddle for ȽEL¸TOS and the Salish Sea

Poster for LEL,TOS Paddle

July 11, 2018

Tsawout Chief and Council invite all relations in WSÁNEĆ and neighbouring communities to participate in the PADDLE FOR ȽEL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, in support of Tsawout’s claim to the island, also known as James Island.

The event is taking place on Sunday, September 2, 2018, beginning at 9:00 am at ȾIX̱EṈ (Cordova Spit) with a community breakfast, followed by a paddle around ȽEL¸TOS (James Island) and then a feast in the Tsawout Gymnasium.

The history of use and occupation is significant combined with significant archaeological history. The island was part of the homelands and provided a rich, productive way of life as it was well supplied with plantlife and surrounded by a rich variety of saltwater food supply (fish/shellfish). When it was taken over as part the war efforts it was still occupied and people felt that the island would be fully returned once it was no longer required. However the history shows that the Tsawout/WSÁNEĆ People were forced off the island and it then became privatized and was eventually sold.

In the past Tsawout has made overtures to have the island rightfully returned and it is hoped that this time justice will prevail and the island will be restored as part of the homelands.

The Paddle for ȽEL¸TOS will be hosted by Tsawout, facilitated by a number of neighbours/supporters/advocates on September 2. The event will kick off with a light 9:00 am breakfast on September 2. It is estimated that the paddle depending on currents/traffic should take about three hours. There may be some information booths on the beach but there will also be a Vendors Market at Tsawout Gymnasium with an Indigenous Tea Room in the Multipurpose Room opening at 10:00 am. At 2:00 pm there will also be a Celebratory Meal with invited speakers to speak on the significance of the island to Tsawout.

People are invited to participate in canoes, kayaks and other human-powered water craft. Space for youth, elders and others is available in support vessels and large canoes. People are also invited to join the events on shore.

“We invite all relations to join us in advancing our Treaty rights to ȽEL¸TOS,” says Chief Harvey Underwood. “We welcome community members and allies in WSÁNEĆ territory and neighbouring communities to join us for the paddle and events on shore.” Tsawout has asserted ownership of ȽEL¸TOS, which despite never being surrendered fell into private hands contrary to the Treaty and Crown policy.

Tsawout would like the Paddle event to be a fundraiser to assist with the research and legal work required for the claim and will be accepting donations prior to the event and at the event made out to TSAWOUT FIRST NATION with notation for “ȽEL¸TOS” (which can be mailed to Tsawout First Nation, 7728 Tetayut Road, Saanichton, BC V8M 2E4).

To join the Paddle for ȽEL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, sign up today at:

Chief Harvey Underwood

Release of Turning the Tide music video

Congratulations to Luke Wallace and our inter-islands community on the release of “Turning the Tide,” recorded live on Salt Spring on Turning the Tide 2017!

From Luke Wallace:

Recording Turning the Tide on Salt Spring island was a truly memorable night. The turnout was amazing and the energy in our wide circle reflected the shared love that we all have for the Salish Sea. This recording was in celebration of an initiative, also called Turning the Tide, where folks use human powered vessels to travel the Salish Sea, share rich ecological experiences and gain some inspiration to take with them. The people involved in this paddle-focused trip continue to show a deep commitment to the protection of people, communities and the ocean both during TTT and throughout the rest of their lives. For many, this is a chance to reconnect with the planet they are fighting so hard to protect and to remind themselves of the interconnectedness of all life.

One of the important issues that the folks from Turning the Tide seek to address is the ongoing threat of an oil spill in the Salish Sea. The Kinder Morgan pipeline, terminal and associated tanker transport pose a massive and unacceptable risk to all the people and species that rely daily upon a healthy ocean for their survival. Moreover, the federal government of Canada has approved a massive expansion of the pipeline which will result in a 7-fold increase in tankers carrying tar-sands oil/bitumen through the Salish Sea.

The response by the public has been nothing short of inspiring. First Nations all over ‘BC’ are rising up, asserting their rights and demanding that the expansion not only be canceled but that all oil transport be ban in the Salish Sea. The City of Vancouver and Burnaby have come out in full opposition to the expansion and the new provincial government has also taken steps to block the pipeline.

Islanders to celebrate the Salish Sea with paddle

Turning the Tide organizers Sasha Kvakic and Emily Rogers prepare for the annual Peoples’ Paddle for the Salish Sea. Photo Credit: Victoria News

By Lauren Boothby, VICTORIA NEWS

After five days paddling the Salish Sea and breathing the ocean air, Emily Rogers is resolved to fight for what she loves.

In the early morning of Wednesday, Aug. 9, more than 80 people young and old will depart from Dolphin Dock in Swartz Bay on a five-day paddle across the Salish Sea in protest of increased tanker traffic, advocating for greater environmental protection of the waters and the wildlife it sustains.

Rogers is one of the event coordinators for the event called Turning the Tide now in its fourth year. She says paddling the ocean built a bond stronger than any connection she’s experienced in her life.

She hopes the experience of being on the water inspires other participants to advocate for protecting the ocean as well.

“When you’re sitting in the middle of our ocean, it’s impossible to not be awestruck by the beauty and the fragility of our amazing coast,” she said. “It feels very humbling. When you look around and you see the diversity of species that rely upon this body of water, the importance of protecting this place is magnified.”

The journey takes paddlers in their kayaks and canoes from Swartz Bay to Portland Island, Salt Spring Island, North Pender Island, Prevost Island and Moresby Island, for about 29 nautical miles (54 kilometres) in total. Participants stop at each to rest and participate in workshops such as ocean navigation and reading tides.

Jeremy Loveday, a Victoria city councillor and event organizer, sees the event as a way to connect with the community.

“The theme this year is building solidarity across the Salish Sea, so it’s to bring people together, to get that experience of being on the water, to break bread, make those connections and to leave with a stronger network of solidarity across the islands of people who are willing to stand up and fight to protect our coastline,” he said.

Loveday says the trip has been one of the most memorable experiences of his past three summers.

“The highlight for me is getting out on the water and, when you’re travelling in the kayak or a canoe, you’re right down at water level and experiencing it an a very intimate way. There’s no distractions its just you and like-minded people you’re travelling with.”

For more information, visit