Metlakatla Launches New Tourism Experience With Largest North Coastal First Nations Canoe Ever Constructed

Metlakatla Development Corporation

2012-Voyage back 10,000 years through Tsimshian legacy aboard the largest canoe in North America. After receiving a traditional welcome by Tsimshian Elders, board the majestic 65 foot ocean- going canoe HAʼ NDA ʻWIT ʻWAADA (Where people come together and get to know one another). Paddle the protected, deep-water harbour of Prince Rupert while viewing and learning about its working waterfront. Hear stories of the First Nations people who have inhabited this part of the world ʻsince time immemorialʼ. This tour provides opportunities to see eagles, seals and other north coast marine life. Your safe, educational and enjoyable experience provided by local guides and elders will be a memory that will last for years. Participants must be able to enter, exit and help paddle the vessel.

Metlakatla is a small First Nations community located near Prince Rupert on BC's north coast. The name Metlakatla derives from the Tsimshian Maaxlakxaala, which means "saltwater pass". In 2009, Metlakatla's Development Corporation set out to develop a new canoe and rainforest cultural and ecotourism project to capitalize on seasonal tourism along the north coast. This project has included the design, engineering, and manufacturing of the largest north coastal First Nations canoe ever constructed.

Now, tourists to BC's north coast can learn more about Tsimshian culture and experience the beauty of the rugged coast line and thick rain forests. Metlakatla's new excursion is now provided through Seashore Charters, Metlakatla Development Corporation's tourism operator, offering visitors a guided journey as they paddle across Prince Rupert Harbour to McNichol Creek beach where they are witness to a traditional Tsimshian welcoming ceremony.

The 65-foot HAʼ NDA ʻWIT ʻWAADA canoe that was constructed under this project is painted in black with traditional aqua-coloured Tsimshian art designed by Metlakatla artist Mike Epp, featuring the four clans of the Tsimshian people: the raven, wolf, killer whale, and eagle. The canoe's shape is based on the cedar dugout canoes the Tsimshian historically used for fishing and trade expeditions. The canoe is Transport Canada safety certified and is constructed from fibre-glass rather than as a dugout from a traditional cedar log due to its enormous size, its enhanced safety features, and for durability of the vessel.

Positive Economic Impacts in Metlakatla

Metlakatla directly created six full-time seasonal jobs, four part-time year round jobs and four temporary jobs during the construction and installation of this innovative and modern Tsimshian canoe project. The new tourism activity this project has created is also resulting in the creation of other new business ventures that are helping to diversify Metlakatla's economic base without adversely affecting neighbouring communities or the environment. The project is also supporting Metlakatla with cultural revitalization and engagement within its community.

The addition of the dock is providing Metlakatla's neighbouring First Nation communities with transportation infrastructure so that they can continue to easily access Prince Rupert for their services. This dock is planned within additional economic activities Metlakatla is currently investigating, and is expected to lead to continued economic opportunities for members of this First Nation and its neighbouring communities.