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The Surrey Hospital & Outpatient Centre Foundation is hosting British Columbia’s first ever charity stand up paddleboard (SUP) race in support of kids’ mental health on July 24.
To honour the event in its inaugural year, the foundation called on Roxanne Charles – a Semiahmoo First Nation member and mixed media artist – to create a ceremonial paddle.
“I’m excited to work on this project because I feel very strongly about standing up for youth mental health and supporting the community at large,” Charles said.
As an artist, her work often explores themes of culture, nature, spirituality, environment, exploitation, and trauma. She seeks to touch, move and inspire others through her art.
The Champion of the Crescent Stand Up Paddleboard Race will raise funds for a new Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit (CAPSU) at Surrey Memorial Hospital that is expected to open in 2017 and help over 800 children each year.
Charles designed the paddle around the concept of healing to connect it to the important mental health cause behind the race.
“Water is very significant for indigenous people and being on the water is a calming, spiritual experience,” she said.
The Salish Eye, which is often found on paddles and boat hulls to evoke a sense of spiritual protection and guidance, will feature prominently in the design.
The paddle is also constructed entirely out of cedar and is embellished with red cedar bark weaving to create a diamond pattern on the handle.
It took almost six months to complete and was made possible through generous support from the Bank of Montreal (BMO) – one of the event’s sponsors.
After the Champion of the Crescent, Charles’ paddle will be displayed year-round at the Surrey Memorial Hospital where it will continue to serve as a reminder of protection and guidance to staff, patients, and their loved ones.