Choir, priest, squirt guns bless Tofino fleet at dock side cer­e­mony

Asian Journal - - British Columbia - By Dirk Meiss­ner, The Cana­dian Press

Tofino: A rev­erend re­layed prayers over a ra­dio trans­mis­sion and a choir sang hymns from the dock in the pelt­ing rain as crews and ves­sels waited to be blessed in a West Coast cer­e­mony of hope, safety, sur­vival and re­newal. The an­nual bless­ing of the boats cer­e­mony in Tofino, Bri­tish Columbia, was con­ducted Mon­day as the tourism-de­pen­dent com­mu­nity strug­gles to re­cover from the deaths of six peo­ple when a whale-watch­ing ves­sel sank last Oc­to­ber. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still un­der­way to de­ter­mine why the Le­viathan II went down near Tofino with more than two dozen peo­ple on board, but those at the cer­e­mony were ready to move ahead af­ter a win­ter of deep re­flec­tion. “It’s been a tough win­ter know­ing what hap­pened with the Le­viathan,’’ said Rev. Will Ferrey af­ter pre­sid­ing over the bless­ing cer­e­mony. “It was good to have some time as a com­mu­nity to stop and re­flect and think about what hap­pened and the very real dan­gers of what hap­pened here. I think we are ready to move on and see what the next sea­son brings.’’ Ferrey stood at the dock’s edge and de­liv­ered a se­ries of prayers ded­i­cated to those who live, serve and thrive on the sea. Lined up in the har­bour were whale watch­ing and fish­ing boats, wa­ter taxis, kayaks and coast guard and Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans ves­sels. “To­day, we gather to bless th­ese ships and th­ese boats and those who work on them to pro­tect our coun­try, to pro­tect our cit­i­zens, to pro­vide food from th­ese wa­ters and those who use th­ese wa­ters for recre­ation, sight­see­ing, trans­port and fam­ily out­ings,’’ Ferrey said. “Bless th­ese boats, their equip­ment, and all who will use it,’’ he prayed. “Pro­tect them from the dan­gers of wind and rain and all the per­ils of the deep.’’ The boat bless­ing cer­e­mony in­cluded sev­eral light­hearted mo­ments, es­pe­cially when the boats passed by the dock to be “blessed’’ with wa­ter sprayed from a cer­e­mo­nial squirt gun. The cer­e­mony is part of the Tofino area’s 30th an­nual Pa­cific Rim Whale Fes­ti­val mark­ing the yearly re­turn of up to 20,000 mi­grat­ing grey whales. Mayor Josie Os­borne said heavy hearts re­main in the com­mu­nity be­cause of the Le­viathan sink­ing, but the com­ing of spring and the ar­rival of the whale fes­ti­val sig­nals a new start for the area.

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