Posted on Dec 09, 2022
Inclusion of First Peoples’ content in schools builds student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect. In Delta, British Columbia, the School District commissioned “Wave Warrior”, an ocean-going 39-foot fibreglass Journey Canoe, to help students learn more about the canoe culture and connect them with Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Delta students and staff can use the canoe on day trips throughout the paddling season. The School District's Indigenous Education Department has also been developing a mentorship program, Paddling Together, for students in grades 5 to 12. The program will inspire positive identity of urban Indigenous students, help develop leaders, and bridge relationships throughout the community.
Indigenous Cultural Mentor and Tsawwassen First Nation member Kaanaax Kuwoox (Nathan) Wilson led the project and artists Diamond Point (Musqueam Indian Band) and Victoria Skosswunson Williams (Tsawwassen First Nation) collaborated on the Coast Salish design. Rotary Club of Tsawwassen was among the sponsors of the Wave Warrior along with Fortis B.C. and Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation (ISARC).
Rotary Club of Tsawwassen President, Blake Cowan, has been instrumental in leading the Club towards acts of reconciliation. Cowan said, “when the Director of Community Service, Tom Smith, proposed that we contribute to the Wave Warrior project it was the perfect fit for advancing our goal of moving from learning about reconciliation through to action. The fact that the canoe will make a difference for youth in our community made it even more significant to our membership.” 
This video on Wave Warrior can be also be viewed here 
At a traditional ceremony to ‘wake up’ the Wave Warrior's and take its inaugural journey with 18 paddlers in the Tsawwassen and Ladner area of South Delta, on September 23, 2022, Wilson was quoted in the Delta Optimist as saying: "I have been working with kids my entire life and got to use the Tsawwassen First Nation Canoe. When I started working with the Delta School District, one of the things I kind of brought back from my memory was the canoe and what it has done for me.” said Wilson.
The launch of the Wave Warrior was seven years in the making.
Wilson adds: “Growing up in the way I grew up, being away from the culture, it was different. It was during the time when not everybody was happy or proud to be Indigenous. So this is this is why I wanted the canoe. Doing this and being able to have the kids’ pride is what's important.”
Delta School District Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education, Diane Jubinville, was quoted in the Delta Optimist as saying: "Students come from all over Canada. They're not necessarily part of the canoe culture, but this is where we learn first, then that makes them begin to be proud of who they are. “Really, it's about bringing community and family together and helping each other. When we get in the canoe, we leave our stresses behind, and we are out there to enjoy nature, enjoy each other, and to pull each other forward.”