Dave Bodaly, leader of Indigenous Guided Tours, Nanaimo

Indigenous-led Cultural Tours

Dave Bodaly, a revered storyteller, elder and knowledge keeper of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, leads local Indigenous cultural guided tours year-round and on Saysutshun during the summer only. He also narrates the stories by video in the free self-guided walking tour website and app: On This Spot. Available in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Check out Dave’s narrated stories online and hear about:

  • Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)
  • Being connected with the land
  • Camas plant & garry oak tree
  • Champagne raccoons
  • Douglas fir pitch
  • The wolf, eagle and orca
  • Life in a longhouse
  • Fishing for herring
  • Arbutus trees
  • Cedar and making regalia
  • Salal berries
  • Snake Island

Read more about Dave

The story of the champagne raccoon

Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) is home to rare champagne-coloured raccoons whose light hue is due to a recessive gene or a transformation by Indigenous spirit-being, depending on your cultural perspective. Kayakers and hikers occasionally spot them in the mornings foraging for clams on beaches. 

As the Snuneymuxw story goes, on Saysutshun’s Bates Beach thousands of years ago a raccoon hiding in the tall grass snuck over and grabbed an eagle by the legs. When the Transformer spirit-being saw this and asked why, the raccoon responded: If I hold on long enough I’ll learn to fly. The Transformer then put an end to the raccoon’s ability to sneak up on eagles, saying: one in every 10 of your babies will be white. 

The feud between eagles and raccoons continues today, and the champagne-hued raccoon can be seen and scooped up much more easily by an eagle. Latest counts of the champagne raccoon remain at about 10 percent of the total raccoon population on the island, about seven of 70 at last count.

Champagne Raccoon on Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) - photo by Gary Appleton
Champagne Raccoon, photo by Gary Appleton