Stories from the Magic Canoe – An Update on the Kitlope Tenure

Lessons on life and conservation from Cecil Paul.

Last Thursday, Raincoast hosted a sold out event in Victoria about the legacy of the Kitlope and Xenaxiala elder, Cecil Paul. Cecil was the last person born in the Kitlope and led the efforts to protect the Kitlope from extractive industries. Although Cecil could not join us, we were privileged to be joined by three close family and friends of Cecil’s who were given the blessing to share his stories and teachings with us that evening. 

The conversation, hosted by CBC’s Bob McDonald, revolved around Cecil’s new book, Stories from the Magic Canoe which tells the story of Cecil’s life; enduring residential schools, alcoholism, and reconnecting to, and finding healing in protecting the Kitlope. In the book, Cecil talks about the Magic Canoe, which is his powerful metaphor for large-scale transformation and social change. Cecil describes, “I was alone in a canoe, but it was a magic canoe. It was magic because it could make room for everyone who wanted to come on board, to come in and paddle together. The currents against us were very strong. But I believed we could reach our destination. And that we had to for our survival.” 

Chris Reekie, Cecelia Reekie, Brian Falconer, and Briony Penn share a laugh at UVic.
Chris Reekie, Cecelia Reekie, Brian Falconer, and Briony Penn. Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

As a long-time friend of Cecil’s, Brian Falconer shared with us three things Cecil told him he hoped he would see in his lifetime. The first being to see an end to logging in the Kitlope, which happened in 1994. The second being a return of the Gps’golox pole from a museum in Sweden, which happened in the early 2000s. The last hope was seeing an end to commercial trophy hunting in the Kitlope. Raincoast shares that hope and we are currently raising funds to purchase commercial hunting rights in the Kitlope tenure. 

We have now raised $180,000 of the $650,000 required. As much as anything the evening was a reminder that collectively our impact is bigger and there is room for everyone in the magic canoe. How can you help? Come paddle with us?

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.