A Message from Captain Randy Sonnier
As the summer days begin to grow shorter and the feeling of fall begins to fill the evening air, a sense of melancholy sets in. The excitement of being on the water with the canoes begins to fade, allowing new memories to take shape. The next journey still months away, is in its infancy. Perhaps that’s why we are so excited to be heading north to support the Strong Women Pull – it gives one last opportunity for us to be together, in the tightknit community so reflective of canoe life.
There is an amazing phenomenon that happens during Tribal Journeys: the outside world simply disappears. That's probably difficult to fathom for anyone who has not experienced journey for themselves, but be assured, it’s true. No matter your role - whether you are on a canoe, a support boat, road crew, or volunteer, your entire focus is in the moment. That is both the beauty of canoe life and the medicine it brings.
The journey north for our crew takes us far from our home port on Vashon Island. We will spend weeks on the water making our way to Fort Rupert, for a pull only a few days long. That is the power of canoe life.
Strong Women of the Water, is among our favorite journey to support. While there are a handful of men who join the group, these are powerful women making the canoe move. Each has such a unique story to tell. And each, on their own journey. It is an amazing thing to be part of, and speaks to the impact of canoe life.
For those of you we have met along the way – emote -huy ch q'u. We are so appreciative of your support and the efforts you make to welcome us to your territory as we pass through. We look forward to seeing you on our travels home.
Tribal Journeys 2023 Paddle to Muckleshoot has now ended. It has been amazing to reconnect with so many old friends and meet so many new ones along the way.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has left a lingering legacy that will take many years to erase but I was inspired at how we worked to mitigate any challenges to ensure the best journey and experience possible.
What an honour it has been to support the All Nations delegation this year. From our training day at Stz'uminus First Nation to the landing at Alki Beach, there is so much to be thankful for.
To the crew of the Pearl - Skipper Sven, Mates Magnus and Luke, you each played a critical role in helping the canoes stay safe throughout their journey. The many little things you each did to welcome pullers aboard did not go unnoticed, and I appreciate your dedication to the cause and your willingness to go the extra distance to make sure things were done right.
In September, we will once again point the Pearl north and head towards Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to provide support to Strong Women of the Water, our final trip this season. This is an amazing event in one of the most breathtaking areas of the coastal corridor. I hope you will join us.
It’s hard to believe as we leave Shell Beach on July 19th, I will begin my 15th year assisting ocean-going canoes on the annual Tribal Journeys pilgrimage. I had no idea that first summer the profound and continuing impact the canoes would have on my life, nor could I have imagine the good medicine I would receive.
Working alongside Sue Oliver of the Oliver Canoe Family, has been amazing. To watch our canoe family grow and evolve, and witness their strength and spirit as they honour their ancestors with sacred protocols and traditions.
When I was gifted the Pearl from Chuck Wagner and the Suquamish Warriors during COVID, I wondered how we could use this beautiful ship to support to the canoes. Shortly after, I joined with a small group of seasoned Tribal Journeys leaders, from both sides of the border, anxious to create an organization on a similar mission. All Nations Paddles Up will help The Pearl and her crew realize our vision and help ensure our canoes have the best support available.
I have been truly blessed by the amazing experiences and people I have met along the way. I have been welcomed by your families in times of great celebration and great sadness. You have provided your gift of friendship and love and have allowed me embrace this way of life year round. It is a privilege and honour I cherish.
On behalf of myself and the crew of the Pearl, we welcome you aboard and look forward to seeing you on the water.