The view of a tall ship on the Courtenay River is one we may not see again, but the impact of its visit will be felt in our community for years to come. The visit from the Caravan Stage Company and their ship, the Amara Zee, attracted much attention, raised thousands of dollars and put Kus-kus-sum on the map for many Comox Valley residents. “This event surpassed all our fundraising expectations” stated Paul Horgen, Project Watershed Chair.

The ship was guided up the river by the K’ómoks First Nation Guardians and a small fleet of kayakers. The crew of 20 were heartened by the warm Comox Valley welcome in the pouring rain and later commented on the great spirit and organisation of the event. And what organisation! Turning the abandoned sawmill site into an arts and culture venue was quite the endeavour. “We couldn’t have done it without the Elevate team” said Caila Holbrook, Project Watershed, Manager of Fundraising, Outreach and Mapping “ their knowledge and get it done attitude was invaluable”.

 It was a challenging weather weekend all around with inclement weather threatening to cancel the show, much of which was performed on guide wires and platforms high above the ground. However, it was only on Sunday night, Canada Day, that a wind kicked up that made it unsafe, for both performers and audience, to continue the show past the introductory scenes. Project Watershed is grateful that most of the people who had bought tickets to that night chose to donate the cost of their tickets to the project.

Even though the main show was canceled, Canada Day was still a special event at Kus-kus-sum. Kumugwe shared dances with the audience and Andy Everson spoke to the importance of the project and strong partnership between the K’ómoks First Nation and Project Watershed. Gord Johns, Courtenay-Alberni MP, donated $500 at the event and encouraged the audience to keep supporting this project. Only a few weeks before, he had encouraged all levels of government to support this cause in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

In total the Nomadic Tempest event raised over $40,000, and these funds will be matched by the Estuary Angel creating over $80,000 for the purchase and restoration of the Kus-kus-sum site. Perhaps of equal importance, over 2,300 people visited the site and got a feel for what 8. 3 acres of cement feels like in the heart of our community. 

Project Watershed would like to thank all the sponsors including Old House Hotel and Spa, City of Courtenay, K’ómoks First Nation, Victor Anasimiv –Your Island Mortgage Specialist , Riders Pizza, Peninsula Co-op, The Update Company, Jamie Edwards – Real Estate Comox Valley, Pod Creative, Sure Copy, Wedler Engineering, The Eagle, Comox Valley Arts Council, Country Animal Hospital, The Record, the Old House Law and Notary Office and many more featured below. “Over 100 people volunteered their time and energy to make this event happen” reported Kathy Haigh, Project Watershed Director of Fundraising, “this success is their success as much as it is ours.”

 The show was not without some controversy; the depiction of the oil and gas industry, in the context of climate change in a mythical future, was off-putting to some audience members. A diversity of experience is also a reflection of the diversity of the audience, and of our community. Project Watershed would like to affirm that the content of the Nomadic Tempest Show does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Comox Valley Project Watershed Society nor the sponsors of this event. It is an unique artistic piece created by the Caravan Stage Company over 20 years ago. It is noteworthy that the City of Nanaimo, the Town of Gibsons, and the City of Vancouver, also contracted this show to play in their jurisdictions to provide an artistic and cultural experience for their citizens.

“We are doing everything we can to get the attention and support of the whole Comox Valley community.” said Mrs.Holbrook “and recognise that some of these things may appeal to some people more than others. Whether it be bringing a tall ship to the Comox Valley, giving a kayak  tour or hosting a Salmon BBQ – we want to give everyone the opportunity to connect to Kus-kus-sum and be a part of this legacy.”  

Project Watershed would like to thank the photographers who volunteered to capture this event and whose images are shown here.