The Inner Harbor was packed Saturday afternoon as people took part in this year’s Victoria Dragon Boat Festival.
The event had been on hold for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returned stronger than before, attracting participants from all over the Pacific Northwest.
Dani Kala, a racer from Washington State, says the festival’s diversity is what drew her in.
“The best thing that I love about this sport the most is how inclusive it is,” said Kala. “There are teams for people with visual impairments, people who are deaf, breast cancer survivors, all-cancer survivors, senior citizens, high schoolers… you know, every age group.”
This year marked the festival’s 27th anniversary and one of it’s key focuses throughout it’s history has been raising awareness and funds for cancer research.
The Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas, a boat team full of cancer survivors and supporters, uses the event as an outlet to fight for their cause.
“We’ve lost too many of our team members for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and other cancers,” team coach Shelagh Freemantle told CHEK News. “It’s very important for us to get out in the water and do them justice.”
Freemantle adds that being a part of this sport helps her find strength towards a cause that hits close to home, after her husband, unfortunately, passed away due to cancer.
Since 1995, the Victoria’s Dragon Boat Festival has partnered up with the B.C. Cancer Foundation and has raised over $800,000 towards cancer research.