OIB program fundraising for new canoe

·2 min read

The Osoyoos Indian Band’s (OIB) youth canoe program has grown in popularity since it started in 2013 and organizers are hoping to secure a new canoe through fundraising and donations.

Originally a youth program, it has since expanded to include adults and elders in the community to connect with younger generations through shared experiences on the water.

“It allows opportunity for youth to engage with adults and elders within our community to learn about their traditional and cultural teachings and brings them a sense of belonging connecting to the land and the water,” said Sonya Jensen, youth coordinator with the OIB.

At the end of 2020, the Semxiken Canoe Family wanted to expand the program to get another canoe on the water, an eight-seat mariner canoe, and began fundraising. The fundraisers have taken the form of online raffles, replacing the usual community dinnersdue to COVID-19. The raffles can be found on the OIB Facebook page or Jensen’s personal Facebook page.

Currently the program has a 13-seat Langley canoe and it has served them well for the past seven seasons.

"We have traveled to the coast for Canoe Journeys as well as paddled the waters throughout the Valley within our traditional Okanagan Territory. This year we want to always have a canoe on the water whether we have four paddlers or 20, and getting the Mariner canoe will help us achieve this," Jensen said. .

“It’s a really positive program for youth and it has been quite successful,” Jensen said.

Last year the program set its sights on a goal to make sure a canoe was always available and out on the water.

“To do so we decided we would need an additional smaller canoe so we can take smaller groups if needed, or we could take larger groups if needed. We can have anywhere from three to 20 paddlers on the water. That was our goal for our canoe family was to make sure there was always a canoe on the water,”

Fundraising started in September and combined with donations the program has raised $3,000 towards their $13,000 goal. Organizers are currently doing a square draw for a one-night stay at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos, to be used any time within the 2021 year, Squares are $20 a spot and the draw will be done once filled. E-transfers can be sent to sjensen@oib.ca and there are 27 spots still open to sell as of press time

Those interested in donating can contact Jensen 250-488-6961 or by email at sjensen@oib.ca.

Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle