Living the Passion Series (part 2): Canoe Culture with Brandon Gabriel & Keith Point

Brandon Gabriel Photography 3618 copy

Photographer: Brandon Gabriel

January 26th, 2016 will be Canoe Culture stories woven along side of teachings for the challenges First People face today. We will hear distance journey canoe stories woven along side of war canoe stories from our two Indigenous guests, Brandon Gabriel and Keith Point.

Join Kwantlen Nation’s Brandon Gabriel as he captivates you with chills and thrills as you join with him virtually on First Peoples fluid highways. With 15 long distant canoe journeys, beginning in 2001, the canoeist has plied the waters of the North Sea in the UK, the North Atlantic Ocean in Shetland in addition to many major lakes and rivers throughout British Columbia. His epic 1200 km journey along the entire coastline of British Columbia from the Fraser River to Prince Rupert help to bring attention to pipeline issues across Canada. Summer 2015 was an emotional event when Gabriel skippered Kwantlen Nation’s new 37 foot ocean going canoe in the ten day Pulling Together Canoe Journey. When Kwantlen’s 37 footer entered the water for the journey it was the first time in a hundred years for the Nation. The rich, and vast teachings Gabriel gleaned through his water enriched lived-experience embrace holistic medicine, spiritual healing, Indigenous resurgence, Indigenous youth leadership, connecting Diaspora First Nations kin, reconnecting to the land and water, nautical navigation skills, and survival skills.

Keith Point, Skowkale First Nation, has been actively racing with dugout canoes since 1979 while his experience coaching war canoes begun in 1988. Point is on the water coaching every day during the war canoe racing season. His love for war canoes and carving the dugouts was passed onto him from his father, Mark Point. The North American Indigenous games in Minnesota and Winnipeg, and the world sprints in Samoa, Fiji, and Hawaii combined with numerous other canoeing activities such as Tribal Journeys, Pulling Together Canoe Journey, local outrigger races are housed in a lived experience which is wide and vast. Point’s stories gathered through his years of war canoe experience blends with his employment history as a trauma worker, youth employment counselor and addictions worker; providing a wealth of wisdom.

Session Video

Talking Points:

  • What is First Peoples history with canoeing?
  • What has canoeing taught you physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually?
  • How can canoeing be used to heal and strengthen our communities?
  • How can youth leadership be woven into canoeing?
  • How can canoeing be used by First People to address today’s challenges?

Meet The Presenters:

Brandon Gabriel

canoe journey copy

Photographer: Miranda Gathercole

The artistic prodigy was acknowledged at the age of 12, while Gabriel’s passion and love for art has over flowed into adulthood. Cultural Anthropology , Visual Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University along side of Emily Carr ‘s University of Art and Design (BFA 2006) provided Gabriel with the academics to support him in his successful art career. Exhibiting his work in Hong Kong, England, Scotland, South America, the US, and across Canada Gabriel has won awards of distinction, including a special honor by the Governor-General of Canada (1999), and TD Canada Trust’s Ambassador of Diversity Award for outstanding achievement in Visual Arts.

Melinda, Brandon’s life partner, is a Dene/Cree scholar. Together they assume their roles as activists for social justice in their respective communities with a shared vision of healthy and thriving First Nations communities. They are expecting their first born child March 2016.


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Keith Point

Photographer: Rachelle George

Keith Point


Point, Skowkale born and raised, positions himself as a trauma worker, youth employment counselor and addictions worker within the helping profession paradigm. The apprentice canoe builder and paddle carver began this learning journey in 1976. When Keith isn’t coaching war canoes he is building canoes. The drum making and carving instructor also practices singing and dancing in addition to hunting, fishing and wood cutting.



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