Brian Smith requesting permission to "come ashore" in Nackawic, N.B., on the Wolastoq-St. John River Brigade

Good Morning Paddlers, Canoe Journey & Brigade Friends;

What a great summer of big canoe paddling!  Not only were there the six brigades that CVBS worked with closely these past two years to ensure the success of.  There were the six other brigades that we shared marketing and administrative resources with.  And, there were many more big canoe brigades and paddling events across the the whole country that we can take no credit for.   In a year of celebration we can certainly say that "the canoe" was at the forefront of our Canadian heritage.

As we wind-down this season, our organizers and participants are wrapping up this summer's events with reports and the posting of pictures and videos, many of these can be found linked directly from their particular brigade pages on the VBS website here.  At present not all expected reports or links are in place... check back over the next few months for more, on the those cold winter evenings when you want to dream about, or relive some warm paddling adventures.

Our six CVBS brigades all reported that they were at, or near, capacity for participants, were considered a success by participants, spectators and local community supporters, and, finished with a positive bank balance.  CVBS had 583 members enrolled to participate in these six brigades, and we are estimating that about a quarter of the members paddled in two or more brigades!

The most exciting result from our brigades is the interest that has been generated to pursue more big canoe paddling.  At our last Brigade Committee Chairs meeting every committee reported plans for the future.  So, onto the future.

Call for 2018 & 2019 Brigade proposals
It is time to look forward and think about future brigades, in particular for 2018, 2019 and beyond.  CVBS is in the enviable position of being able to provide seed funds to help brigade organizers get started,  to stimulate and support other grant applications for brigade operations.  We have always found it easier to get  donations and grants if you have some $s in the bank. For 2017 brigades we provided five seed grants of $500... and two brigades have already returned the grants to help with future events.  We could consider larger grants too! 
Conditions for the grants will be:
- we require early drafts of; general plan and schedule, budget, and safety plan for our consideration and approval.
- we need to know if proposed brigades will be taking advantage of our CVBS membership, insurance, website, and registration systems.
- we need a commitment to post brigade reports, financial statement and a return of the seed funding IF the brigade is a financial success.

Samples of all of the above materials can be found on the CVBS website in our 2017 and prior brigade materials.  If you are interested in proposing a brigade, have questions, need help, please drop me a note  <>.

2017 CVBS Annual General Meeting
We have tentatively scheduled our Annual General Meeting for a Saturday morning in January.  We will be changing our bylaws to facilitate an amalgamation with the VBS under the federal CVBS charter.  

Major Change to be voted on at the Annaul General Meeting and Why
Now that we've completed our 2017 programs we see the need for only one national brigade society committed to promoting and supporting Big Canoe Paddling and Brigades across the whole country.  And it is time for some new folks to help out, in some new positions.  We are thinking about regional reps on the executive, new director or executive roles for membership, communication and website management.  And we of course have roles like treasurer, secretary, chair, and vice-chair to fill too.  If you are interested please drop me a note  <>.

To close out this fall newsletter we received the following recently.

A unique story from the Sault Ste Marie Ontario Brigade

I thought my dad was nuts when he asked me if I was interested in joining 23 other people in a 6-day 200 km voyage with the Voyageur Canoe Brigade to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. I am a 28 year-old guy who has cerebral palsy. I cannot walk and use a wheelchair to get around. I also have severe scoliosis so I cannot sit on a bench. I have limited use of my arms and cannot do a single paddle stroke. So how the heck would I participate in such a journey? “I bet your chair will fit into a North canoe”, my dad said, and so we tried. By removing the second seat from the bow in, my chair fit perfectly and with a few heavy duty bungee cords we were able to secure it to the thwart and gunnels so it would not end up at the bottom of the lake in case we flipped. By not belting and strapping me in we figured I would fall free of the chair.  A life jacket completed the precautions to ensure I would surface face up. I do need to mention here that I swim at least 1-1.5 km each week in the pool. The most challenging part was getting me and my chair in and out of the canoe without tipping it. We figured out a safe way of doing that and practiced both dock and beach entries and exits during our pre-voyage practice sessions, with the help of the entire paddling team to do the transfers and stabilize the canoe. After a paddle on a calm inland lake followed by one on Lake Superior, I felt more comfortable and started to believe we could actually pull this off. And so we did, indeed. The first day we crossed Batchawana Bay to the Goulais Peninsula, and the second day we crossed Goulais Bay to Gros cap. Routes fully exposed to the fury of the big lake, which fortunately stayed very calm during both crossings. When we got into the occasional chop, the gouvernail told everyone to kneel, “to counteract the higher center of gravity caused by me in my chair”, but I think he just wanted to have everyone in a praying position…..Anyway, the trip went off without a hitch, thanks to the support of the entire team and calm wave conditions. It was an extremely cool experience; I loved being included in such an outstanding adventure. I don’t get many opportunities to test and challenge my limits. Although they were tested more than I had wished for: days of rain, drizzle, and fog, a black bear roaming around while we were eating, and thick clouds of mosquitoes on shore. My favorite part was hanging out with and talking to everyone in the canoe and when camping. I got to do something not many people have done in their lives. I bet I am one of the first if not the first person in a wheelchair to complete a multi-day Voyageur Canoe Brigade outing. And so in our own modest way, we made a bit of history while reenacting a piece of Canada’s history. Our trip showed how together we can make Canada a more inclusive place to live and play. Next time you are planning a Voyageur Brigade trip, think about inviting and including someone with a disability. You will be doing all participants a favor!

 from Tyler van Frankenhuyzen
Pass this On!

We encourage you to pass this fall note onto all interested paddlers.

for the 2017 CVBS & VBS executives
Copyright © 2017 Canadian Voyageur Brigades Society, All rights reserved.

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