Members of the Golden Eagles Canoe Club gets ready to move their canoe into the water for a race at Harrison Lake during Sasquatch Days on Sunday.

Golden Eagles soaring with canoe pulling program

Skowlitz-area canoe club travels far and wide to race in tournaments

A group of children, all dressed in orange t-shirts with the same markings, dig their hands and feet into the wet sandy beach.

They are the young ones of the group, kindergarten and elementary school aged. The older ones, in their teen years, stand around and watch, joking and giggling with each other, dipping their feet in Harrison’s cool lake water.

It’s another weekend, at another set of races, and the kids are relaxed and happy.

They are the Golden Eagles Canoe Club, from Skowlitz near Lake Errock.

Their coach, Chrystal Williams yells for them to get their canoe into the water. Their next race is about to start, a part of Sasquatch Days at Harrison Hot Springs over the weekend.

The kids pull the canoe hard and in time. Once they get the boat into the water, their giggles subside and they focus on the task at hand. The boat is carved from cedar, and being made from the richly cultural tree, they treat their canoe with honour.

And they are learning to treat their bodies and spirit with the same respect, Williams says.

The club consists of 46 kids, ages four and a half to 17 years old. They train every single weekday, for five to six months of the year.

And each weekend, they are off to a different tournament.

“We enjoy traveling,” says Williams, who trains the team along with her husband Sonny. “It gets the kids out and doing something.”

This is the club’s third year, and eventually as the children grow into adults, they’ll start up a men’s and women’s league. But for now, they’re focusing on the positive benefits the children are experiencing.

Those involved are doing better in school, the coach says, and many are becoming more outgoing, meeting new friends and focusing on their training.

“Some of the kids didn’t have very many social skills, and now they’re totally enveloped in their training,” Williams says.

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