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West Shore RCMP shares canoe story to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

Tl’Ches Spirit is named for the Lekwungen word meaning island

Since 2007, the West Shore RCMP has had an Indigenous Policing Unit working in and with local First Nations both to fight crime and build important relationships.

A key tool in both those goals is the detachment’s canoe called Tl’Ches Spirit.

Tl’Ches is the Lekwungen word meaning island, specifically Chatham Island, traditional Songhees land off what is known today as Oak Bay. The 35-foot Pacific Dancer Canoe boasts traditional Indigenous artwork and is used by the West Shore RCMP Indigenous and Community Policing Unit’s for community and cultural events.

Elder Joan Morris, whose traditional name is Sellemah, was the last Songhees Nation member to have lived on TL’Ches (Chatham Island). Sellemah has shared many teachings with Const. Cole Brewer who began the canoe program several years ago.

“The tradition of passing on Indigenous teachings is what inspired us to start this canoes program. Every time we take a group of people out on TL’Ches Spirit, we provide a cultural briefing which allows the participants to understand the history and significance of the area,” said Brewer, a member of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.

About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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