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Peace and Healing: Trent’s Story

Trent is an outgoing, charismatic and artistic gentleman. He is candid and direct about his struggles with addiction and credits KL and Tribal Journey in supporting his commitment to sobriety.

He shows a cultural and political awareness beyond his years – sharing his thoughts on colonialism and the residential school system that shattered his culture and community while looking forward to the future with hope. The residential schools are not ancient history “the last one closed in 1996 – just a few years before I was born. I think they are responsible for a lot of the problems we face today as a people – no connection to our culture, broken families, sexual and physical abuse, addiction – this isn’t who we were as a people a hundred years ago.”

Five years ago, Trent was having breakfast with his auntie, who works for KL and suggested that he participate in the KL canoe family tribal journey. He has joined the Tribal Journey every year since.

Trent really enjoys learning and talking about the songs they sing as a canoe family, and how he has an opportunity to learn about the songs and dances of other people. He believes in sharing his culture as much as possible and that this can help foster understanding and eliminate prejudice against his people. He loved being able to see the songs and dances of other nations during many Tribal Journeys over the years and fondly remembers the Journey last year when a group of Maori from New Zealand performed their protocol. “You know how they slap their chests and stomp their feet when they dance?” he asks, “you could barely hear the drums playing over the sound of their bodies – it was incredible.”

Trent considers the Journey one of healing. “They don’t allow drinking, drugs or violence on the journey. I showed up to the last journey and everyone asked why my hands were shaking, why I didn’t look so good. I said ‘I just need a beer’”. What he got instead was the unwavering support of the canoe family – of everyone working together as a team, singing and dancing together, working out their problems in a safe and supportive environment.

While all of the Tribal Journeys have been memorable for Trent, he will never forget the year they had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. In 2013, as they were paddling on the open ocean, the wind and waves became overwhelming. “The canoe was almost straight up and down as we were coming over these 25 foot swells; it was crazy”. He also remembers some of the incredible sea life they witnessed on their paddle – grey whales, pacific white-sided dolphins and “tons of seals”.

Trent talks about how affirming it is to see so many different nations participating in the Journey; this year there were an estimated 15,000 people who landed in Nisqually, Washington. “All of them come across the Salish – the sea has always been a highway for our people – to get together in this safe, sober and positive environment. That positivity rubs off on everyone; it’s shared.” He would like to see more and more youth get involved in Tribal Journey and thinks that no one should be excluded from this experience. He acknowledges that it’s a huge commitment of time, and both physically and mentally challenging, but that it is ultimately worth it.

His experience with KL staff and volunteers and his time in care has lead him to contemplate a future as a Guardianship Social Worker – to help other youth like himself and his friends.

When asked what he loves best about Tribal Journey, Trent doesn’t hesitate: “The sobriety. The peace. The healing. You just leave everything you have on the water.”

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