Traditional First Nations Canoe Races on Sunday, June 25

For the first time in 100 years, Ku-Sing-ay-las canoes, also known as “war canoes”, will race along a traditional route in the Gorge Waterway and Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The Songhees and Esquimalt Nations in partnership with the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee are hosting the traditional canoe races on Sunday, June 25 from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Three races will take place including the Buckskins (for ages 16 years and under), Men’s, and Women’s – in 11-person canoes. Each race will depart from Ship Point, travelling up the Gorge Waterway, turning around at Halkett Island to finish at Ship Point.

The stage at Ship Point will feature performances by the Esquimalt Singers and Dancers, the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers, and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre Drum Group. Emcee Thomas Jones of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the War Path Canoe family will speak to the historical significance of canoe racing.

In 2015, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority hosted a war canoe demonstration in the Inner Harbour. Sunday’s races will follow the traditional route that was used in the mid-to-late 1800s. First Nations canoe racing was an important event in the Gorge waterway, and by the early 1900s, some canoe races started in downtown Victoria.

The Ku-Sing-ay-las Canoe Race is made possible by the generous support of the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee’s event partners: the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Tourism Victoria, Royal Roads University and other sponsorships to be announced.