Wednesday, October 16, 2013


In 2014 the Heiltsuk are planning a “Big Do”. The Paddle to Bella Bella, QATUWAS 2014, is picking up speed as Frank and Kathy Brown, Walter Campbell and a host of other canoe people remain busy charting the blueprint for what will be for them 21 years of Tribal Journeying. The Qatuwas festival was hosted in Bella Bella B.C. in1993.

The community is located in what is famously known as the Inside passage, a series of deep channels that serve as a highway to ferries and fishing vessels. The paddle from Prince Rupert is 98 Nautical Miles and could take about two days, the entire paddle being in pristine coastline, dotted with rocky shores and sandy stretches of beach. But it depends on where you are coming from.

According to Walter Campbell one of the principal skippers for the NALA Winds team, “Not too sure about miles on the water (from Vancouver) and from this years journey from Vancouver to Bella Bella it would take about 16 days on the water.” Captain Wally has been in town promoting the QATUWAS 2014.


On May 19, 2013 a potlatch was held by Athalis Frank Brown and family. It was my first time in the community and the hospitality was incredible. It was a two day event and a skippers meeting was held prior to the family business. Frank performed a chiefs dance and it was a privilege to witness.

Frank Brown dances at his potlatch
This week on the third season of SAMAQAN we feature a short glimpse at the efforts of the NALA winds Canoe family when they are in their element. During the Paddle to Squaxin Island in 2012 Frank, Kathy and the NALA Winds team opened their journey to us. Our idea for Tribal Journey was to feature various canoe families.

Our cameras would follow NALA winds periodically, as we weaved back and forth between canoe families. One day near the end of their paddle we asked the NALA family for a day to play with the camera shots. We got some great material that can be seen on the Digital component of our TV series.

My hope is that you will see how hard working they are for the sake of their cause. Frank and Kathy Brown have spent nearly their entire lives in helping to forge ties with other people who love nature, sea going societies whom are reviving the ancient highways of their ancestors. But they are wary for the health of the ocean.


It is no small irony that the paddlers of 2014 will be going close to where Oil tankers may one day dominate traffic. In Frank and Kathy’s backyard, the Spirit Bear, the white bear, lives and breathes a sheltered life. In the waters that surround Bella Bella there are Whales, Salmon, Halibut, Herring, Crab and countless cod that provide the world with fresh seafood. Oil Tanker Traffic is a major concern. If there was a Tribal Journey I would recommend people witness, it has to be  QATUWAS 2014. 

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