Sunday April 02, 2017

Ahousaht: Story of a Skate park

Dwayne Mazereeuw, is giving back – by helping to build Ahousaht First Nation a skate park. 0:49

Listen 20:14

The remote First Nations community of Ahousaht on the wild Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, BC, made headlines in October 2015 with their quick and heroic response to the  capsized tourist whale-watching boat, Leviathan II.

Six people died in the incident, but now one survivor, Dwayne Mazereeuw, is giving back – by helping to build the community a skate park. Mazereeuw and his wife were among those rescued from the freezing ocean.

View from the skate park

The view from the skate park. (Ileisha George)

In the following weeks, they searched for a way to thank the people who saved their lives. A professional skate park builder, Mazereeuw discovered an online fundraising campaign to build a skate park for the young people of the community.

Dwayne Mazereeuw

Dwayne Mazereeuw was rescued from the Leviathon II and is thanking the community by supporting the skate park. The feather was presented to him by the Ahousaht Council. (Jessie Levene)

"It kinda put me in shock a little bit," said Mazereeuw. "I couldn't believe the perfect opportunity to jump on board and help this project out. I called my wife right away and said, 'we need to get behind this and we need to do this'. We decided that going to the media and going public might really be a way for us to help out and say thank you to these people that helped us," he said. 

With their help, the campaign far exceeded its target.

Skate park takes shape

The skate park starts to take shape. (Dominic Campbell)

 

Rebecca Atleo, Ahousaht's director of education, applauded Mazereeuw's efforts. "I think that shows a real true appreciation towards the people who saved his life. What better way – doing something for the kids."

She hopes the park will be yet another way to boost the confidence of young people in the community.

Concrete being poured

Concrete fills the frames for the skate park. (Nate Webster)

"With our kids I really truly, truly believe each of them has the potential to do something, to be something, to make their mark in the world. But we also have to build in that self-confidence for them to say 'Yeah I can do this, I can!' Without fear. We got a national chief out of here, we could get a world champion skateboarder out of here. Anything's possible," Atleo said.