Paddle back in time in a 10-metre replica of an ocean-going First Nations canoe. Sing traditional Coast Salish songs and spot centuries-old pictographs on the surrounding cliffs. Leave the skyline of Vancouver and cell coverage behind and head into a lush rainforest fjord that is the North Shore’s Indian Arm. Experience drumming in the wilderness, storytelling of myths and legends and a traditional picnic of baked salmon, wild rice and bannock on a remote beach.
Takaya Tours grew out of this entrepreneurial band’s desire to create an economically and environmentally sustainable adventure company to develop youth leadership skills and provide a greater understanding of little-known First Nations history in the Vancouver area. “We are especially engaged with elementary, high school and international students as well as youth and social support programs. They make up 60 percent of our clientele,” says Dennis Thomas, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. “We’re excited that local students are stepping out of their classrooms and are learning about reconciliation in an authentic way.”
Tsleil-Waututh means “people of the inlet,” and the company’s cultural canoe and kayak expeditions are centered around Burrard Inlet, which is explored on mostly half-day tours. The operator offers teambuilding canoe activities and multi-day camping trips that take in the full 29-kilometre length of Indian Arm, passing pictographs and Granite Falls — a spiritual bathing site. “We teach paddling as well as living in sync,” says Dennis, “We say naut’sa mawt, ‘One heart, one mind, one spirit.'"