|APTN television series “Samaqan: Water Stories”, in the episode about the Tribal Canoe Journeys 20th anniversary that was released in 2014. The youngest of the Campbell Brothers can be seen above in blue.|
History of the War Canoe Movement
In order to have a social movement, you need to have a social problem. In my course Social Problems (Socio 290) I wrote my final research paper on The Assimilation of Indigenous Canoe/Kayak, within the past 150 years, in the Maritimes . In that paper I wrote about how the Olympic Institute of CanoeKayak Canada, a mainstream/whitestream sport organization’s “war canoe” racing amounts to a) colonization, b) cultural appropriation, and c) cultural assimilation. It does this by calling their racing canoes and the sport - “war canoes” when white people never went to a war in a canoe and the First Nations people of Canada did. These white teams of athletes paddling “war canoes” then a) name their teams after indigenous words or nations, as seen in the Mic Mac Canoe Club and b) wear stereotypical “Indian” head logos on their team outfits when they have no association with the Mi’kmaq First Nation historically. This mainstream sport of “war canoe” amounts to a collective activity and not a social movement. In a Truth and Reconciliation era, Indigenous communities are trying to reconnect with their culture which in many cases was lost due to the long-term effects of the Canadian Indian Residential School system. The war canoe is a large part of the First Nations people of Canada’s history and as they move forward the mainstream “war canoe” racing system of the Institute CanoeKayak Canada is confusing and inappropriate when viewed in a balanced context .
In the book by Suzanne Staggenborg and Howard Ramos - Social Movements (3rd edition), they write “most social movement scholars would agree that social movements ‘are collective efforts, of some duration and organization, using non-institutionalized methods to bring about social change’ (Flacks, 2005:5). ”  . An example of a Canadian Social Movement in a Truth and Reconciliation Era can be seen in 2013 by way of an online petition against the Institution of CanoeKayak Canada: Change The Name from "War Canoe" to C-15 . The petition ran for a set amount of time and its intent was for the Institutions to understand the historical context of “war canoe” racing and how it would not be considered acceptable in a Truth and Reconciliation era. The petition opens with “In June of 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of Commons, and on behalf of the Government, apologized to the First Nations people of Canada.” and it reads out the apology and ends with “"Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country."”. Yet, we still have assimilation happening in the sport of Canoe and Kayak “war canoe” racing. Where Indigenous youth are encouraged to participate in mainstream “war canoe”. The petition continues with “CanoeKayak Canada and its club members continue to race 'war canoes' amongst the dominant culture. The use of this term (for this type of canoe/race) is insulting and demeaning to most First Nations people. While generations of 'white' people were racing these canoes and calling them 'war canoes' the indigenous people of our country were being segregated, abused, neglected and tortured to rid them of their culture, language and traditions.”