History of Pulling Together Journeys

PULLING TOGETHER’s History since 2001

Please provide comments to our current account of history (below) with any information that we can add to provide an accurate portrait of each journey and the growth we have seen over the past 11 years. Our hope is that becomes a living document and we acknowledge and celebrate the growing families, partnerships and “firsts” of Pulling Together. Pulling Together Canoe Society April 2012.

History of the Canoe:

Pacific Northwest canoes are both a sophisticated art form and a symbol of cultural identity, reflecting local needs, sea conditions, and skills. However, the canoe is the single most important physical manifestation of Northwest Coast First Nations’ culture. They go back to the Great Flood myth, and exist at the nexus between technology and living beings. Blessed at each step of their transformation and hardened by the forces of fire and water, these canoes came to represent whole clans and communities. In canoe journeys, the canoe almost leads its crew along, its own journey of ten thousand years or more an exemplar of unity and power, of daunting persistence, and spiritual transport. The canoe’s technology is older than time, but still perfectly fitting for people seeking to explore and know the ocean. The Northwest Coast canoe provides the maximum amount of boat for the minimum amount of material, and represents unity and teamwork, as well as strength training and health. The canoe served many purposes such as traveling, hunting, mobility and warring with other tribes.

By the end of the 19th Century there were some 10,000 canoes on the West Coast. However, following an extended period of systematic repression by the church and government of traditional economic patterns that relied heavily on the canoe, and due to rapid social and technological change, by the early 20th Century knowledge and practice of the canoe culture of the Pacific Northwest had virtually disappeared, despite it being the most important aspect of native culture.

After many years, slowly the culture and traditions of First Nation peoples were re-kindled. Many different nations started to re-build and bring back the life of the canoe. Today, the canoe is used in the old ways of travel from village to village, as seen with the Tribal Journeys of today. (Late 1990’s)

Works Cited

Textual information for this page: Neel, 1., Stewart, 1., & Suttles, 1. (2010). Northwest Coast Canoes-The Bill Reid Centre – Simon Frasr University. Burnaby, BC, Canada.

History of Pulling Together:

Now retired Staff Sergeant Ed Hill of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was a participant and organizer of the well-known Vision Quest Journey of 1997 that took place down the West Coast of British Columbia. This journey included RCMP officers and First Nation peoples visiting the many First Nation communities down the coast of BC.

Ed Hill knew the benefit of police officers working with the First Nation community and began to plan another canoe journey for the year 2001. This time the road traveled would be the Fraser River. The focus of the journey was to improve the police relations with the First Nation communities. The RCMP sent out an invitation to all the police agencies in British Columbia requesting participation in the worthwhile endeavor.


 Pulling Together 2022

Host Nations included Simpcw, Splatsin, Adams Lake, Te’kemlups and Bonaparte. Participating Public Service Agencies included Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Shuswap region RCMP. Our leads Tina Donald, Rachel Bowser and Kyle Crump did a fantastic job over three years to bring the PTCS canoe families back to their beautiful territories. The scenery, cultural sharing and overall hospitality was incredible for all the participants. New Canoe families and sponsors joined us this year. Stormtec and Loblaws providing technical shirts and food sponsorship. Along with our longer term partners, CN Rail and Stantec, thank you for your support.

Registered canoe families included.

Abbotsford Police Department

Adams Lake


Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Little Shuswap

Royal Canadian Navy

Osoyoos IB

RCMP Squamish

RCMP Upper Fraser Valley

Secwepemc Child & Family


Semiahmoo – FN



Styetemc Canoe Family

BC Transit Police


West Van PD

VPD Cadets

Pulling Together 2018

July 3 – Pulling Tigether Canoe Familles and participants arrival day (Songhees First Nations)

· 5:00 pm Dinner for Participants and Invited guests

· 7:00 pm General Meeting – all participants should be in attendance.

July 4 – Canoes will travel from Songhees to Victoria Harbour

· Lunch on the Legislatures Lawn for participants and invited guests.

July 5 – Canoes will travel from Victoria Harbour to Gyro Park, Cadboro Bay

July 6 – Canoes will travel from Cadboro Bay to Cordova Spit (Tsawout First Nation)

July 7 – Canoes will travel from Cordova Spit to Winters Cove on Saturna Island

· Independent night for canoes

· Land Crew will travel to Tsawwassen

July 8 – Canoes will travel from Winters Cove to Tsawwassen

July 9 – canoes will travel from Tsawwassen to Steveston (Gary Point)

July 10 – canoes will travel from Steveston to Musqueam

July 11 – canoes will travel from Musqueam to Vancouver Harbour / HMCS Discovery

– Lunch in Stanley Park

– Pulling Together Canoe Journey ends in HMCS Discovery

Pulling Together Canoe Journey 2017

July 5

  • Arrival in Gibsons for set-up

July 6

  • Registrations and Skipper Check-in. 
  • Safety demo,  launch and bless canoes
  • Opening Circle

July 7

  • Canoes will travel from Sechelt to Gibsons.

July 8

  • Canoes will travel from Gibsons to Camp Potlatch
  • Ground Crew moving day to Squamish

July 9

  • Day off the water at Camp Potlatch

July 10

  • Canoes will travel from Camp Potlatch to Squamish

July 11

  • Canoes will travel from Squamish to Porteau Cove

July 12

  • Canoes will travel from Porteau Cove to Horseshoe Bay
  • Ground Crew will move to Capliano Reserve

July 13

  • Canoes will travel from Horseshoe Bay to Ambelside

July 14

Pulling Together 2016

The journey started with a send-off in Mount Currie and ended with celebrations in Sts’ailes, touching the traditional territories of the Lil’wat, Samahquam, Skatin, Xa’xtsa, and Sts’ailes, traveling along Lillooet and Harrison Lakes to the Fraser River.

A more detailed summary soon to be added


Pulling Together 2015


As the canoes gathered on the shores of Harrison Lake on Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 the crews set up camp in Sts’alles. Our journey this year would take us all the way from Harrison Lake to Semiahmoo Reserve at the Canada/US border. For 11 days, at times with up to 500 people, we’d travel and live together as the 2015 PULLING TOGETHER Canoe Family. Our theme this year would be “Heal Thy Ways”, or “HEALTHYWAYS”.

Our travels would take us across the bottom end of Harrison Lake, and down the beautiful Harrison River. Our first adventure would be moving from the blue waters of the Harrison into the brown and powerful surge of the Fraser. We’d stop along the way at Skway Landing in Chilliwack then, down the Fraser further, we’d move on to the Sumas River. Navigating upstream, we’d leave the canoes at Barrowtown Pup Station Landing overnight while we feasted with the Sumas people in their beautiful longhouse. The next day we stopped below the Mission Bridge at Matsqui Regional Park and then made our way to Kwantlen Reserve for our next camp and overnight stays.

Our canoes would then navigate for an overnight stay at the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets base at New Westminster. The following day we did the short journey to Deas Island Regional Park in the Deas Island Slough. Tsawwassen First Nation and their beautiful longhouse was a familiar destination for yet another feast, protocols and celebrations then it was on to a first for PULLING TOGETHER. We’d navigate through American waters around Point Roberts and into Crescent Beach where the canoes would rest overnight in anticipation of their last day on the water the next day.

The final day of paddling saw our fleet leave Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach and make its way around to White Rock for a community greeting. Waiting for high tide on the breach at White Rock, the canoes made their final short pull up the Little Campbell River to the waiting crowds on the bridge that spans the river. There the fleet was met by the Chief and people of the host nation, the Semiahmoo. Traditional feasts and protocols ended the journey and on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 all canoe families made their way home.

Too long to list, canoe families and participants had come from far and wide. This was the biggest of all PULLING TOGETHER canoe journeys yet. This massive project was skillfully organized by the people of the Semiahmoo Nation under the guidance of Joanne Charles. With her efforts and organization skills, supported by the PULLING TOGETHER Canoe Society Board of Directors, this largest of all journeys ran without a hitch.

It was the year of heat and smoke. Our summer has been plagued with record days of sun and heat and during the journey unimaginable numbers of forest fires are consuming British Columbia forests. Many days we paddled in intense heat through dense smoke burning eyes and lungs. It is a credit to all who participated that our spirits were high throughout. PULLING TOGETHER 2015 was a great success from every perspective.

Pulling Together 2014

PULLING TOGETHER 2014 would see our annually growing fleet exploring and enjoying the beautiful Salish Sea waters of the Gulf Islands and the southeast coast of Vancouver Island.  Our theme this year was “NETE MOT” meaning “Working Together With One Mind”.

Indeed, any PULLING TOGETHER journey requires a community working together, and this year would be no exception.

We first gathered at the seashore by Nanoose Bay in the territory of the Snaw-naw-as First Nations community.  Our fleet this year would consist of at least 20 canoes and at our peak we were numbering close to 400 people.  The warm hospitality of the Snaw-naw-as Nation will forever be in our hearts as they opened their homes and facilities to us as we prepared for our journey.

This year’s journey would end some 9 days later in Tseycum, a First Nations community just north of Sydney. But those days in between our time in Nanoose and the final stop at Tseycum were special indeed.

The canoes launched on the Pulling Together Canoe Journey on Friday, July 4th from Nanoose Bay and for the next 8 days we paddled the Salish Sea through the Gulf Islands and off Vancouver Island’s south-east coast.  We visited such ports of call as Kuleet bay, Crofton, Tsartlip, Penelakut, Tsawout, New Castle Island, Sydney Park, Sydney Spit, Cowachin Bay, Duncan and Tulista.  The paddling conditions throughout the journey varied from wind and substantial water challenges to placid and tide friendly excursions from one point to another.

Each journey has its own, unique high points, its “touchstones” of memory that will forever remind one of the special time that particular journey was.  This year would be no exception for our fleet.  This was the year CN Rail introduced their very own new canoe and Katze First Nations proudly brought their new canoe, “The Spirit of Katzie II”.  Both were blessed before the July 4th journey launch.  So too, we had international visitors in the form of 3 Fijian participants.  They provided a unique energy to our journey with their vibrant personalities and their own indigenous culture shared with us in the longhouses.

There isn’t a paddler who was on that journey that won’t recall the beaches at Crofton.  Both as we arrived and as we departed their beach, better described as mud flats, the tides were low, exceedingly low.  With 20 big canoes to lift over a quarter of a kilometer of ankle deep mud flats, our crews devised a creative and unique, if not a first, method of canoe moving.  Rather than carrying the canoes on shoulders, we devised an easier and much quicker method by forming a long “bucket brigade”, the entire combined crews stood facing each other and moved each canoe deftly hand over hand above the slick mud.  Half an hour later all 20 canoes had been moved, and once again PULLING TOGETHER practiced what this year’s theme had been all about.  We had “worked together with one mind”.

Pulling Together 2013 -“AWAKING THE SPIRIT”

PULLING TOGETHER 2013 was another first. This would be the first time our fleet of canoes would travel the beautiful waters of the Shuswap territory in the interior of British Columbia. It would take us through a winding course exploring the majestic Secwepemc Nation Traditional Territory.

Our journey would begin on Thursday, July 25th when we set up camp in Enderby, our base camp. The actual canoe journey, consisting of close to 300 people and over 18 canoes on the water at times, shoved off from Splatsin, or Mara Lake Provincial Park, on Saturday, July 27th. Our canoes would touch their final beach in Kamloops on August 2nd.  After attending the Kamloopa Pow Wow, the final few canoe families finished PULLING TOGETHER 2013 on Sunday, August 4th.

This journey was organized by the people of the Secwepemc Nation, but one person in particular performed her precision magic and patient leadership for the duration of the entire event. Her name is Tina Donald. All who participated will be forever grateful for her hard work and management skills.

Our travels took us down the Shuswap River into Mara Lake then into Shuswap lake itself. We paddled the lake for a few days and ultimately the fleet enjoyed the experience of negotiating what the locals tout as “The Shortest River in the World” Little River that took us into Little Shuswap Lake. From there we were swept down the rush of the South Thompson River to our ultimate destination of Kamloops where our journey ended at the annual Kamloopa Pow Wow.

During the course of our journey we enjoyed the generous culture of many stops at such places as St. Ives, the home of the Little Shuswap Band or the Squilax people. We visited Celista and Scotch Creek , Quaaout Beach, Splatsin, St. Ives, Squilax Pow Wow grounds, Pritchard and ultimately to the end for our canoe journey to Riverside Park in Kamloops. Perhaps a highlight of this journey was our mass participation in the huge, annual cultural event in Kamloops, the Kamloopa Pow Wow. At that event our entire crew of over 300 carried one of our canoes and paraded into the arbour in front of an audience of thousands.

The theme of this year’s journey was “AWAKING THE SPIRIT” and we truly did that. Three different bands have now purchased large canoes for their communities. They participated in the journey and their ancient canoe culture is alive and well. Indeed, PULLING TOGETHER 2013 did “awaken the spirit”.

Pulling Together Journey – 2012

The PULLING TOGETHER journey of 2012, named RETURN TO SLIAMMON, was just that.  The Fleet gathered for the second time in the history of PULLING TOGETHER at the beautiful territory of the Sliammon people near the community of Powell River.  Over 250 pullers coming came to experience the warmth, hospitality and culture of the Sliammon people.  Canoe families represented numerous Public Service Organizations as well as First Nations Families from all areas parts of Canada and the USA. (names of participating First Nations families will be added shortly).

This year’s journey was a first.  Rather than travel each day after breaking camp, this year would see our fleet enjoy the comforts of a base camp.  Our camp was set on the shores of Sliammon on July 2nd and our Sliammon experience ended on July 10th.  This year’s journey was spearheaded by Sgt. Wally Argent of the Vancouver City Police and as usual he also headed up the kitchen crew in a permanent, commercial quality kitchen kindly facilitated by Sliammon Nation.

All participants experienced the beautiful waters and territory of the Sliammon as each day we were guided by their elders and cultural teachers.  As an ever growing canoe family, Pulling Together may well have found a new way of doing these journeys.  We will always look back at the 2012 Sliammon journey with fond and warm memories of a beautiful land.  But more than that, we’ll always remember the warm and generous people of the Sliammon nation.

Pulling Together – 2011

From June 30th to July 9th, 2011 the PULLING TOGETHER family experienced perhaps the most unique of all such canoe journeys to date. Organized by Cst. Boyd Pearson of the Port Alberni RCMP, DFO’s Jim Robson and Jason Knight, this year’s journey was one of the most ambitious of any of the PULLING TOGETHER journeys. Our adventures would begin in Tofino, on the open west coast of Vancouver Island. Over the next week or more the fleet would travel to Ahoushat, Opitsaht, Ucluelet, Ittatsoo, Benson Island, Toquaht Bay, Bamfield, Anacla and ultimately end our journey in Port Alberni in the territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations people. We were treated throughout with the respect and hospitality that all of these communities are known for. It was a journey of high adventure and complicated logistics. Weather and open ocean conditions dictated much of our schedule. Our fleet experienced surf landings, rains and winds. Twice the entire fleet had to be towed across waters that were too potentially dangerous due to wind and tide conditions. We never did get to paddle the Alberni Canal as record setting winds over two days dictated otherwise. Over 250 people, canoes, provisions and trailers had to be moved from Bamfield to Port Alberni by road. PULLING TOGETHER – 2011 was a cultural, spiritual, logistical and environmental journey never to be forgotten by anyone who was fortunate enough to have been a part of it.

Pulling Together – 2010

From July 1st to July 9th, 2010 the canoes of PULLING TOGETHER once again came amassed for a very unique journey. Known as “The Salish Sea Journey”, this year’s event was organized by the Renfrew Collingwood Neighborhood Youth Canoe Club led by Jolene Andrew, Emanuela Sheena and Toni Burbridge-Courchene from Metis Family Services. It was challenging year as most policing agencies were heavily committed to 2010 Olympics and the first time a Pulling Together Canoe Journey was completely planned and delivered by with limited Public Service/Law Enforcement agency involvement, although planners would like to acknowledge the mentorship received from Dave Loop (DFO) and Robert Longley of the Canadian Navy. In effect, this journey circumnavigated the Greater Vancouver area. Perhaps more significant though is the fact that this is the year that the waters of Georgia Straight were officially changed to “The Salish Sea”. Our journey of about 140 kilometers celebrated and honoured that important name change. For the most part we enjoyed good weather and fair seas. Our journey took us from Ioco, the Tsleil-Waututh territory at the far end of Burrard Inlet, to the land of the Squamish in West Vancouver. From there we traveled to Musqueam, a community often visited by PULLING TOGETHER, and then on to Gary Point in Richmond. Our next destination was Tsawwassen First Nation. It actually became our camping home for three nights as we commuted in “the other world” to and from our waiting canoes each day. And finally, we paddled from Crescent Beach to White Rock and Semiahmoo First Nation where such canoes had not arrived for over 50 years. At times our fleet and ground crew numbered over 300 people. As we look back on this year’s journey we’ll reflect on one of rich culture and high emotion. Many hearts were touched by PULLING TOGETHER and the good work it does. We look forward to next year with eager anticipation.

Pulling Together – 2009

This year’s journey was organized by the RCMP “E” Division Aboriginal Police Services Cst. Chester Williams, with the assistance of the Penticton RCMP and the Penticton Indian Band as our main hosts. The journey began at the north end of Okanagan Lake, with stops at Fintry, Westbank and Penticton. This was the largest journey with 22 canoes joining in from many different areas, including Vancouver Island, Gibson, Tsawwassen, Semiamhoo, Katzie, Chehalis, Penticton, South Similkameen. Agency canoes were represented by the RCMP, Abbotsford Police, Vancouver Police, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Royal Canadian Navy, Circle of Eagles Lodge Society, and Collingwood Neighborhood House, the of Circle of Eagles Lodge Society and the Urban Native Youth Agency (Vancouver). The Penticton Indian Band did an outstanding job in hosting a very large number of people, providing meals and a Pow Wow for the pullers (a first for Pulling Together). The final day of the journey saw the canoes travel the length of Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls.


Abbotsford Police Department hosted this year’s journey “Return to the River” from Hope to Gibsons. The planning and execution of the event was handled by Insp. John Davidson and Cst. Carrie Derochur of Abbotsford PD. Our number of participants and ground crew swelled to over 200 people this year. The good work and good word of PULLING TOGETHER is spreading. Commencing on June 26th and finishing on July 1st this journey proved to be one of both culture and adventure. The Fraser River was unusually high for this time of year, and particularly at the high end of the river so each canoe was challenged with difficult tests each day. Culturally, this journey proved to be saturated with a varied and diverse representation of all of the nations represented in our canoes and on the shores of the Fraser River. Each day provided poignant and emotional moments both for participants and observers. Communities visited included, Hope, Seabird Island, SHXWHA:Y (Chilliwack), Kwantlen (Fort Langley), Katze, Kwikwetlem, Musqueam and Gibsons It was also the inaugural journey for the the Department of Ocean and Fisheries unnamed canoe, until the The Honourable Steven L. Point, OBC
Xwĕlīqwĕltĕl, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia discovered this information and requested the honor to bestow it with the name of the Sturgeon Warrior


Organized by Constable Bruce Ballingal, New Westminster Police Department, and Clare Cameron of the Vancouver Circle of Eagles Lodge Society, the journey saw over 150 participants travel from New Westminster to Victoria. Forming up in New Westminster on June 23rd and departing from just below the Port Mann bridge the next day, the first few days were plagued with deluges of rain, wind and even lightening and thunder. Finishing on July 1st in Victoria harbour in bright sunshine, the fleet was greeted by thousands of jubilant crowds celebrating Canada’s birthday in British Columbia’s capital. Communities visited on this year’s journey included Deas Island, Tsawwassen, Maple Bay, Cowichan Bay, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Songhees. This was also the first time we added to our Pulling Together Family, the Royal Canadian Navy (as support vessels).

Mini Pulling Together – Saturday, September 15th, 2007

For the second year in a row, Judy White and a group of people on the Sunshine Coast organized another Mini PULLING TOGETHER event. September 15th, 2007, the event saw about 15 unattached First Nations youth paddle in two canoes. These are youth living on the Sunshine Coast but not a part of the Sechelt Indian Band. Circumnavigating Keats Island local paddlers, civilians and elders completed a one day journey. That evening a feast and gift giving ceremony was held, and by the time those young people, between the ages of 10 and 15, went home having had a very positive experience, that connected them to their culture. Many of those youth gone onto participate in the larger, annual, PULLING TOGETHER canoe journeys.

Pulling Together – 2006

June 2006 saw Pulling Together move to different waters. Organized by Insp. Eric Grummisch and Insp.Vinnie Forsberg of the Vancouver City Police, PULLING TOGETHER 2006 commenced in Powell River, the home territory of the Sliammon Nation. This was the first Pulling Together journey navigated completely on ocean waters. After gathering together on Saturday, June 24th at Sliammon, a fleet of 10 canoes and approximately 150 people, embarked on their canoe journey June 26th from Powell River. Over the next six days the canoes found their way to the territory of the Sechelt First Nation, with overnight stops in Egmont and Sechelt. From Sechelt the canoes made their way to Gibsons and the waters of the Squamish Nation. After an overnight in Gibsons, the fleet departed for their final pull to the waters of the Squamish, Burrard and Musqueam First Nations, their destination being Spanish Banks in Vancouver Harbour.


After several years of knowing it had to be done somewhere, Judy White organized a mini “Pulling Together” Canoe journey. Judy works with unattached First Nations kids in Gibsons, BC, not of the local Squamish or Sechelt Bands. Under the age of 16, they had shown an interest in participating in, and experiencing a PULLING TOGETHER event. To that end, Judy and a large group of volunteers and parents put together a one day MINI PULLING TOGETHER event. Gathering at 7:30 AM, about a dozen of these young people boarded three canoes at the Gibsons Marina. Though the day was blustery and rainy, the canoes traveled the waters of Howe Sound until about 2:30 PM.

The three canoes were from the RCMP, the Vancouver City Police and the Urban Native Youth Association of downtown Vancouver. Led by cultural teachers and leaders, the youth experienced a full day of PULLING TOGETHER on the water, and then they were taken to a local beach house for a feast of salmon, bannock and other traditional foods. Gifts were given, lessons were taught and laughter prevailed. An important part of PULLING TOGETHER history it allowed young pullers not able to tackle the arduous demands of the bigger journeys, to participate in an important culrtural event and prepare them for future Pulling Together Journey’s.

Pulling Together – 2005

This year’s journey began on June 25th at Camp Cove on beautiful Harrison Lake. It was organized by S/Sgt. Jim Dallin and Cst. Wally Humphreys, both of the RCMP. In the wilderness, with the meager amenities of a Boy Scout camp, the largest ever Pulling Together crew assembled. At its peak this year’s Pulling Together would see up to 200 people traveling in the canoes and on road crew. Over the next six days our travels would take us too many places. We’d start by paddling down the lake to the grounds of the Harrison Hotel Resort and Spa. From there we traveled to Chehalis First Nations Reserve for a day of education, feasting and celebration. The next day the journey moved down the Harrison River, onto the Fraser, and down to the First Nations community of XA:YTEM near Mission. We’d spend a full day there before moving down river again to historic Fort Langley for celebrations and presentations. A short paddle across the river to the island where the Kwantlen First Nations Reserve is located and our journey was complete. We pulled from the water on July 1st, already looking forward to next year’s journey.


At the 2005 Annual General Meeting of the PULLING TOGETHER CANOE SOCIETY, held at the municipal offices of the Delta Police, a new executive was elected. Comprising of Aboriginal People, police officers and youth, the complexion of PULLING TOGETHER took on a little different look in this transitional period. No longer predominantly a police driven initiative, PULLING TOGETHER has come to a time of direction being provided by a cross representation of all of the stakeholders in the PULLING TOGETHER family.

Pulling Together – 2004

This year’s event was planned and organized by Insp. John Davidson of the Abbotsford Police Department. Beginning in late June, the journey started from Harrison Lake, at the beach in front of the famous Harrison Hotel. It traveled from the lake, down the Harrison River, into the Fraser and ultimately to the Deas Island slough. The full dress uniform and regalia stop at New Westminster on July 1st was received by a large crowd at the docks. Then the group participated in the Canada Day celebrations at Queens Park. Of note here is the fact that the New Westminster City Police participated for the first time in the PULLING TOGETHER journey.

From Deas Island Slough the canoes were transported by trailer to Port Moody where they were again put into the water and paddled the distance to the final destination of this year’s journey down Burrard Inlet to officially terminate at Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. This was the first year of participation by the CP Police, who also assisted in sending the RCMP canoe Skookum Kalitan to Ontario for their inaugural PULLING TOGETHER journey.

(Note: On August 17, 2004 PULLING TOGETHER was incorporated as a Society by the Province of British Columbia. This organization is now known as PULLING TOGETHER CANOE SOCIETY)

Pulling Together – 2004 (Ontario)

In 2002 a civilian, Mr. George Fenn, came from Ontario to British Columbia to participate in that year’s Fraser River Journey. Completely taken with the experience, Fenn returned to Ontario and began contacting police forces in that province and encouraging them to develop their own Pulling Together journeys. His efforts resulted in a police officer attending the next year’s Fraser River journey. The police officer who attended the Pulling Together 2003 was an RCMP member from Ontario. So impressed was Cst. Eric Crow with what he experienced, he went back to Ontario in the summer of 2003 and began planning an Ontario Pulling Together program. Their inaugural journey took place in late July and early August of 2004. It happened in the waters around Peterborough, Ontario, in the traditional territory of the Ojibwa nation. From Curve Lake First Nations Reserve to Alderville First Nations Reserve, the journey spanned over 100 kilometers of paddling.

As this was the first time for such a journey in that Province, and as its birthplace was here in British Columbia, the RCMP canoe, Skookum Kalitan traveled by CP Rail and participated in the inaugural Pulling Together – 2004, Ontario journey.

Pulling Together 2003

The overall co-ordinator for the journey this year was Cst Trish Lee, from the West Vancouver Police Department, She was assisted by Nathan Wilson of the Tsawwassen First Nation. It would start on the Fraser River just downstream from Agassiz and terminate in West Vancouver B.C.

Those police agencies taking part were RCMP, Delta Police, Vancouver Police, Abbotsford Police, West Vancouver Police and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Again, the overall focus was to improve the police relations with the First Nation people with the added focus to include youth that are at risk. The contingent raised funds for the journey by police agency contributions, selling of T-shirts and personal contributions from each participant. The contingent also asked members of the community to sponsor youth from their respective communities. For the first time, with this initiative in mind, Rotary Clubs began to participate by providing funding, and even sending some paddlers along.

Pulling Together 2003 arrived at Ambleside beach in West Vancouver on July 1st, Canada Day and was included in the community celebrations. Thousands of people greeted the flotilla as it arrived on that day with all paddlers in full dress police uniform and First Nation regalia.

Pulling Together 2002

The participating police agencies were the RCMP, Abbotsford Police, Delta Police, West Vancouver Police and the Vancouver Police. The overall coordinator for the journey was Sgt. Jeff Sim of the Vancouver Police Department. This journey would be the first for the Vancouver Police Department’s newly purchased ocean-going canoe, a youth initiative program.

The focus of the journey was to include youth that are at risk. The Pulling Together contingent was much larger than the year before with many school districts, First Nations people and other interested members of the community involved in the planning of the event. The journey took place from Hope, at the mouth of the Coquihalla River, to West Vancouver, BC.

The contingent realized the enormous opportunity to contribute back to the communities. The Pulling Together participants contributed from their own pockets and also raised money by selling T-shirts. In addition, contributions were made by each police agency. In total the contingent raised $5,800.00. The money was used to buy contingent gifts that were presented to the host communities, Search and Rescue and a cheque was presented to the host community for First Nation youth initiative based programs.

Once again the contingent was honored with the presence of canoes from the First Nation communities such as:

-Katzie First Nation; Sk’way First Nation; Tsawwassen First Nation; Squamish First Nation; The Harry family canoe (Squamish First Nation); and The Circle of Eagles Lodge Society canoe.

Pulling Together 2001

The participating police agencies were the RCMP (Aboriginal Policing) , West Vancouver Police , Delta Police and the Vancouver Police. The participating agencies then started planning portions of the journey individually with the First Nation Communities within their police agency jurisdictions. Thus this canoe journey was named Pulling Together. The lead organizing police agency this first year was the RCMP, and the meetings were chaired by S/Sgt Ed Hill, while VPD was led by Sgt Jeff Sim and West Vancouver PD’s involvement was led by Cst Trish Lee.  Delta PD’s involvement began in 2001 where Delta members involved that year included S/Sgt. Hugh Davies and Cst. Gwen Nichols and the youth Delta PD sponsored. They were part of the TFN Canoe skippered by Nathan Wilson. Delta also co-sponsored a few meals along that journey down the Fraser River in 2001.

The journey took place July 2001, from Yale to Gibsons, BC. The Pulling Together contingent made stops to the many First Nation communities along the Fraser River. Each First Nation community visited by Pulling Together, shared their culture and traditional foods. For some of the communities it was the first time in over a hundred years that canoes were seen in their territory. For many that participated in the inaugural Pulling Together journey, it was the first time they had the opportunity to experience First Nation culture and it could be a once in a lifetime experience.

The Squamish and Tsawwassen First Nations each brought their Nation’s canoes to pull along with the contingent which was an extreme honor.

(NOTE: This first year of Pulling Together saw close to 100 paddlers come down the Fraser, requiring more canoes than were available. For numerous years, Chris Cooper made the journeys possible. Chris’s company, Chris Coopers’ Wilderness Adventures Unlimited supplied all the canoes required, free of charge. These first journeys could not have happened without his generous and experienced assistance.)


One thought on “History of Pulling Together Journeys

  1. Pingback: Getting Together: An Eight-Day Shuswap Canoe Trip Engaging Indigenous, Law Enforcement and Utility Communities

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