History of the Comox Valley Dragon Boat Society

In January 2002, a diverse group of women whose ages ranged from mid-30s to mid-70s and living in the communities of Comox, Courtenay, Black Creek, Merville, Campbell River, Royston, Union Bay and Fanny Bay, formed the “Hope Afloat Canada” breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. Their purpose was to purchase a dragon boat for use by local women or men with breast cancer as well as other user groups in the Comox Valley. It was hoped that through positive attitude and example they would raise awareness of breast cancer.

In a period of five months, with the generous support of the Comox Valley business sector, media and service clubs, as well as individual donations and team fundraising events, $29, 548 was raised. This was sufficient funding to purchase a Six-Sixteen dragon boat, drummer’s seat, drum, paddles and life jackets.

On May 24, 2002, Hope Afloat Canada’s dragon boat was delivered. A blessing of the boat and “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony was held on June 29, 2002. The ritual of the “Dragon Blessing Ceremony” is said to awaken the spirit of the dragon. Ancient Chinese mythology tells us that the dragon sleeps in the mountains and travels to the waters when awakened. The dragon boat was blessed by Tsandu Terizen, a Buddhist Monk. Reverend Charles Massey performed an interdenominational blessing and Wedlidi Speck gave a First Nations blessing. The Honourable Iona Campagnola, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, performed the dotting of the eye ritual, officially awakening the sleeping dragon. Guest dignitaries assisted in the rite, taking brushes that had been dipped in pots of cinnabar paint, they dabbed the eye of the boat’s dragon head. The boat was then decorated in red ribbons to signify good fortune, smooth sailing and blessings for the crew of the boat. There was also a Lions dance, symbolizing the lions dancing with the dragon.

Also in May, 2002, the Comox Valley Dragon boat Society deeded their dragon boat to the community. The dragon boat was given as a gift to the Comox Valley Recreation Commission who agreed to rent the boat to groups and individuals of all ages who wanted to learn the sport of dragon boating. The Hope Afloat Canada team would continue to use the boat for practices and festivals as required.

The Hope Afloat Canada team was fortunate to secure our first coach, gold medal Olympian (kayak), Don Irvine.

The CVDBS became a registered charity in September, 2003.

In 2011/12, the general membership voted to include membership of women with all cancers, in addition to breast cancer survivors. In 2012/13, we welcomed a limited number of non-cancer survivors as Associate Members.