August 14-15, 2023 | Leg 6, Days 7 & 8

August 14-15, 2023 | Leg 6, Days 7 & 8.
Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Tuesday evening we cleaned up from canoe tours and welcomed the Roland ‘ohana – the family who calls Salt Spring Island home, but who share the same roots as the canoe, as Hawaiians. In the early 1800s a group of Hawaiians joined the Hudson Bay Trading Company in British Columbia and a lineage of Hawaiians in the area began. John Cox Naukana was one of these Hawaiian explorers, and from him the Roland roots in British Columbia were planted. As the family made their way down to the harbor in Ganges we welcomed them to the canoe and began to share stories of family and the canoe.

The tables were set and dinner was served next to Hōkūle’a as the crew reconnected with our distant brothers and sisters. After dinner Aunty Kate, the family historian, brought out her ukulele and Mark and I joined in to accompany the impromptu kanikapila. The set list included I Kona, Kalapana, a Salt Spring Island spin on Hawai’i 78, Star of Gladness, and Hawai’i Aloha. Aunty Kate had a beautiful voice and made you feel as if you were listening to the Hawaiian music players of Waikiki.

The next morning we met the family at the church in Fulford which stood as the hub for the generations of Hawaiian families and the resting place of the ones who have passed. Fulford was home for the family for generations, a 20 minute drive south of Ganges Harbor. The church reminded me of the churches I have seen in Kalaupapa. Kate stood out front with her pictures of family members as she shared with us the many stories of those who were buried there. At the family home on the other side of the bay, we sat on the porch with the various members that returned to Salt Spring Island this week to greet us. It felt as if we were just at any other family party back home. Although the Rolands were from this far away island in Canada, the Aloha they shared with us was just like home. We are all connected through our ancestors and they have continued to carry the torch of Hawaiian culture and values here in Fulford. As much as the canoe is mine as a Hawaiian, it is also the Rolandʻs. A Hawaiian will always be Hawaiian no matter where they are. Mahalo to the Roland family for sharing their stories and history with the crew.

Jonah Apo