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Life is an Expedition

After the first youth trip in 1996, expedition organizer Rodney Mark wrote this article for The Nation magazine. It was published in 1997.

Smiling men wearing red life jackets in a canoe

Derek Mark and cousin Rodney Mark cheer successful navigation of a rapid as they wait for the next boat to come through.

Old Factory River is our ancestral highway, where our grandparents and great-grandparents traveled inland to trap for the winter and to Old Factory Island to trade in the summer time.  We hear many stories of their expeditions from the past and now we have our own stories to tell our grandchildren thanks to Old Factory River.

The Youth Canoe Expedition is about paddling, portaging, paddling and some more portaging.  Sometimes it’s relaxing and sometimes it’s hard work.  Basically it’s a little adventure. An adventure than challenges you, frustrates you, but at the end of the day you feel a sense of contentment, you reflect to yourself the little glories you had, going through the rapids without your canoe tipping over or just laughing at those close calls.

Then you can’t help but wonder what it must have been like a long time ago.  You think about the history of the river and the people that traveled t and then you find yourself thinking how special this river is and the stories it has and that’s when you realize that you are part of the river and its stories and that you have continued a tradition.  A tradition where your ancestors traveled to survive, to prosper, and with this in mind you realize that they did this with hope.  Indeed, you say to yourself, ‘life is an expedition.’

The purpose of this expedition is to get the youth together in a cultural setting and a chance for them to get to know and to talk to one another. Thirty-six brave souls participated in this expedition with our guides, James Shash, John Mist, and most importantly, Jimmy “Mitchick” Georgekish. My ultimate joy was in sharing your company.  And a special thanks to the Stewart family-your consent and collaboration made this possible.

Clipping of old article in scrapbook

Rodney’s article pasted onto the first page of the first canoe expedition’s photo album and signed by the paddlers.