Haida Gwaii’s Luke Borserio and a Terrace kayaker, who set out on the Nass River last month, have nearly reached their fundraising goal to get more youth out on the water.
Borserio and Ali Marshall took on a 10-day expedition departing on June 22, travelling down from the Sacred Headwaters in the Klappan Valley to Gingolx, and have raised $2,650 to put towards purchasing gear and teaching local kids how to kayak.
“It’s awesome, I would’ve been happy if we just raised $1,000 bucks, but we raised [more than twice] and that’s going to cover our operational costs pretty much for the next year and also buy us some equipment,” says Marshall, also the co-founder of the Skeena Paddle Club. “It was an excellent network relationship building experience, from this we’re now just kind of finalizing a new monthly youth paddle program with the Nisga’a.”
The two set up a $3,000 goal through their GoFundMe page to help fund their vision of engaging more youth to paddle on the rivers in the Northwest, as they both believe that it’s a great sport that connects people with nature.
“It’s important to expose kids to nature, to connect them with the land and the river… the longer you can be away from the phone and computer, the better,” says Marshall in a previous interview with the Haida Gwaii Observer. “I think the more kids that are into it, the stronger the kayaking community will be.”
On June 29, Marshall and Borserio stopped in Gitwinksihlkw to lead a kayaking workshop and taught three kids how to paddle. Marshall says they learned all the necessary kayaking skills and played tag to get them comfortable moving around on the water.
Although there were a few struggles along the way, like having to go over log jams and fighting off mosquitoes, he says the 360km trip down the river was humbling as they were able to disconnect from the whirlwind of their daily lives. For them, starting off their journey on the Sacred Headwaters felt special.
“[The Sacred Headwater] is this amazing place in this area that’s very significant to the Northwest… just experiencing [it] — the pristine nature, beauty and scale of such a wilderness was really impressive,” Marshall says. “[I feel] a lot calmer… I was manically busy before the trip and the wilderness was extremely beneficial for my mental health.”
Since their return, Marshall says he’s happy with all the positive feedback they’ve been receiving and are now coordinating with a few youth groups to set up programs.
They are still actively collecting donations during their kayaking mission through their Skeena Paddle Club’s GoFundMe page online.