My younger years in Vancouver, were marked by a life changing event. It happened while learning English in New Canadian class in 1977.

One day I heard that a pilot program was being offered, for a small, select group of students, to an outdoor educational course called BC Quest. My teacher knowing of my passion for outdoors, send me for an interview. A lucky star shone brightly on me that day!

I remember being very shy standing in front of three interviewers. As they spoke, the only word I could understand was “snowshoe”, (a word I remembered from Jack London’s books). I responded to them excitedly repeating “snowshoe, snowshoe!”, while pointing at myself and grinning widely. The rest of that interview is vague, except the end when I was told that I was included in the program! That was it! Their “yes” opened the door to fantastic experiences that would shape the rest of my life.

Tom, Dean and Jim (the three men that interviewed me) became teachers, friends and mentors. They taught canoeing, rock climbing, ocean sailing and cross country skiing. They helped me navigate through the school system, encouraged me to graduate, and steadily built my confidence in outdoor survival skills. 

And this is why I have created in The Spirit Journey, a special character of Mr. Bling, who represents my three BC Quest mentors.

During summer holidays, I was often taking part in expeditions that one of my three friends organized. Some summers I would sail on Tom’s sailboat to Queen Charlotte Islands (where for the first time I would meet Haida totem polls carvers). Other summers I was paddling the wild rivers in the Yukon with Jim and Dean. I remember one day over the campsite fire, when Jim told me of an old Indian (Kenneth Nukon) that he met when paddling on Porcupine River past the Arctic Circle. I was so intrigued by the story of this enigmatic “old Indian” that I decided to find him, somewhere out there in the vastness of the tundra.

But…, that’s the story for another blog.

Excerpt from my journal, 1977 Vancouver, Canada – 2020 Yandoit, Australia

Mr. Bling (as will as Susie), will return to the story next year.

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