Dragon boaters take to Shuswap Lake to honour paddlers touched by cancer

Dragon boaters gather in Salmon Arm June 18, 2022 to carry out the Carnation Ceremony honouring cancer survivors, supporters, those in remission, those living with cancer day-to-day and those who have died. (Photo contributed)Dragon boaters gather in Salmon Arm June 18, 2022 to carry out the Carnation Ceremony honouring cancer survivors, supporters, those in remission, those living with cancer day-to-day and those who have died. (Photo contributed)
Members of the Friends Abreast dragon boat team go for a paddle on Shuswap Lake during the gathering for the Carnation Ceremony on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)Members of the Friends Abreast dragon boat team go for a paddle on Shuswap Lake during the gathering for the Carnation Ceremony on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)
The Pink Piston Paddlers dragon boat team pulls up to the dock at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm during the Carnation Ceremony gathering on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)The Pink Piston Paddlers dragon boat team pulls up to the dock at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm during the Carnation Ceremony gathering on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)
Dragon boaters gather at the dock in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm on June 18, 2022 for the Carnation Ceremony. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)Dragon boaters gather at the dock in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm on June 18, 2022 for the Carnation Ceremony. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)
The Shuswap Grey Grebes go for a paddle during the Carnation Ceremony gathering in Salmon Arm on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)The Shuswap Grey Grebes go for a paddle during the Carnation Ceremony gathering in Salmon Arm on June 18, 2022. (Andrea Horton - Salmon Arm Observer)

A poignant ceremony focusing on cancer survivors, supporters and those who have passed away returned to Shuswap Lake this past weekend.

The annual Carnation Ceremony took place on Saturday, June 18 in Marine Peace Park.

Although the Shuswap Dragon Boat Festival was cancelled in 2022, the Shuswap Rowing and Paddling Club held a revised ceremony without the races, but still honouring the teams.

Dragon boat cancer survivors from Fort Langley, Kamloops, Revelstoke, Vernon and the Shuswap attended.

The club writes that the Carnation Ceremony is a worldwide tradition in dragon boat festival and race culture. The ceremony offers an opportunity to survivors and supporters to recognize those who have been diagnosed, are in remission, live day to day with cancer and those who have passed away.

It dates back to 1996 in Vancouver, when a paddler picked bright pink roses from her garden to give to fellow paddlers to toss into the water after a race as a way to honour a cancer survivor member who could not participate. Soon after, the tradition evolved in the dragon boat community as a symbol of love and respect for all the women and men involved.

Read more: Salmon Arm dragon boat team gives carnations as mammogram reminder

Read more: Shuswap dragon boaters celebrate 20 years of paddling, camaraderie


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