The X̲aays Canoe – The Spirit of the Canoe

Post written by Justine Wallace:

Traditional work being done in the Xxays Canoe

Traditional work being done in the X̲aays Canoe

Like an arrow shooting straight through the air, The X̲aays canoe glides on the ocean water of the Strait of Georgia to make its journey to Bella Bella for the 21st annual Quatuwas Gathering.

If you have visited the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre you will recognize the X̲aays canoe as it is a main stop along our guided tour. Our ambassadors often speak of this canoe and soon they will have a lot more to talk about.

The X̲aays Canoe rests at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre throughout the year and until quite recently the X̲aays canoe has returned back to the water, its spirit has been awakened and has made the journey from Whistler to Bella Bella. This canoe is a 40 Foot

Ocean canoe

Ocean canoe

This canoe is a 40 Foot ocean-going canoe, traditionally used for hunting. It was from one single tree and carved in a style that hasn’t been done for over 100 years. The head carver Ray Natraoro and his team of apprentices studied the older canoes from photos and museums. His goal was to restore the traditional knowledge that once was almost lost.

Its name X̲aays is the Squamish language translation for Transformers. The transformers were supernatural beings that travelled throughout the land transforming humans into monuments. These monuments were often used to teach children the traditional values and morals of the Squamish and Lil’wat nations.

Ray Natraoro in the Xaays CanoeWhat I appreciate most about the X̲aays canoe is the fact that we often make it an example in the guided tour. We are a cultural Centre because of items like the X̲aays Canoe. We shy away from the term museum because when you go to a museum there are items that you can’t touch and feel. In a museum everything is an artifact and people don’t use them anymore. This is not the case for the SLCC a lot of the items you see here are still in use today. Items like the X̲aays canoe still makes their journey and fulfills their use for generations to come.

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