Master Paddler, Tsartlip Member Len Morris Inducted into Canadian Outrigger Hall of Fame

Len Morris of the Geronimo Canoe Club has been inducted into the Canadian Outrigger Hall of Fame for “Significant and Exemplary Contributions” to Canadian outrigger canoeing.

Len Morris, shown above, with several members of the Geronimo Canoe club.

According to the Canadian Outrigger Racing Association, “As a Masters 40+ paddler, Len Jr. has already realized a remarkable set of accomplishments that will only continue with each passing year. This is long overdue recognition not only for Len Jr., but also for the unheralded achievements of 4 generations of the Geronimo Canoe Club.”

The profile on Len Morris Jr goes on to say:

“Through-out all the online articles and interviews with the W̱SÁNEĆ paddlers, there are several themes that resonate – community, family, culture, traditions. In the extremely competitive outrigger canoeing field, W̱SÁNEĆ community members have been ranked as some of the best paddlers in the world for years. Even without the proper equipment, the club’s members have achieved incredible rankings worldwide. Their competitors include some of the fastest and strongest paddlers in the world from places like Polynesia, Australia, and Hawaii who race in top-of-the-line-equipment, courtesy of sponsors like Red Bull and Shell Petroleum.”

Len’s paddling career has been remarkable since its start. Len Jr.’s contributions to Geronimo Canoe Club’s legacy began in 2010. Between 2010 and 2016, with Len aboard, the Club continuously placed in the CORA Distance Championships and even qualified at the Team Canada Open Men crew for 2017 Tahiti IVF World. Len also began his long run of solo achievements, winning the Open Men Solo race during the CORA Distance Championships and qualifying for Open Men V1 at 2017 Tahiti IVF World Distance.

In 2017, Len took first place “OC overall against elite small boat paddlers” in the PNWORCA 2017 Small-Boat Winter Series Championships in Seattle. Then, in 2019, head coach of Kikaha O Ke Kai Gordon Martinez chose Len to be one of the 9 elite athletes on his “Kikaha Northwest” paddling team.

Len’s successes continued into 2022, even medaling in the IVF World Sprints alongside his talented son Jasper. Of this experience, Len shared the hard work that goes into his achievements, saying “we’d pretty much been distance paddlers until this year when we thought we’d try the sprints, so I started with a personal trainer,” a few months later “I went and did boxing, and then two months before the competition I started kickboxing as well as spending time on the water, so I put myself through quite a bit for this.”

Somehow, in the midst of his accomplishments, Len manages to find time to give back to the community. He recently created a canoe for the children in care at NIȽ TU,O Child and Family Services Society. In an interview, he shared, “I think it will do a lot for them. Just to get the experience and exposure of being in the water. For me, I grew up on the water and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He continued, “it’s a healthy lifestyle,” and “just to be on the water is so soothing.”

We sat down with Len to get his feedback on his latest accomplishment:

Interviewer: What does being inducted into the Hall of Fame mean to you?

Len Morris Jr:

Yeah, it kind of surprised me a lot. It means a lot to me just to be recognized for the passion I have for paddling, and to see the list that I’ve been inducted with the people I’m going in with, just to be mentioned along with them, makes me feel happy, like beyond happy. I can’t even describe it.

Interviewer: What’s the most memorable moment of your paddling career?

I’ve got so many. The one that pops up the most would be paddling in Tahiti ‘cause there were well over 500 paddlers, solo paddlers in the race, and we’re all wearing blue shirts and like I was trying to pick out, because there’s me and my brother and my two other cousins that were in the race as well. I couldn’t even find them. We got separated. Yeah, but it was Tahiti. It was just paddling in Tahiti. It was just a whole eye-opener because the passion they have for paddling is what we have around in the Coast Salish territory. It’s a pretty good feeling there.

Interviewer: What do you value about being an Outrigger athlete and coach?

I have so much passion for paddling. And when I could see the looks on the younger kids’ faces when they’re out on a canoe and they experience what I’m experiencing. And you know, it opens up a whole other, I wouldn’t say lifestyle, but a whole other experience for them. I recently started coaching Middle School, and the smiles that they come in with…I don’t even know what the word is for that. They go out and they don’t want to paddle, you can tell but when they come in, and the experience they have out there. But anyway, yeah, when they come in, and they’re so happy and they’re like, you could just see the enjoyment they’re having out on the water. That brings a lot back to me. Like just to help them experience that.

Interviewer: What helped get you to this point?

Just the passion and the drive I have for paddling. I’ve been paddling for most of my life, you know, like, forty years now, I guess. And just all my past experiences, like coming up paddling with my dad and my brothers, and just the passion of paddling has gotten me here.

Interviewer: Where did that passion come from? 

I’ve always had a passion for paddling. You know, since I was a young, young kid, I watched my dad. My dad was a champion in his day and there were a few times where he took me with him when he was going to get his presentation and his trophies for coming first and he’d hand those trophies to me. And I just felt like those are mine. And when I started having my children and I had my boys, I was trying to do the same thing with them. And, you know, handing those little trophies to them. It just made me feel like, those are my wins. They were my dad’s wins, but you know, I took them as mine. So that drove me to have the passion.

Interviewer: What goals remain for you in the future?

Just to continue paddling and just have fun while I’m doing it. You know, as long as I’m having fun paddling and I’ll never stop having fun. I’ll never stop paddling and you know, I’m gonna continue to paddle. I’m not looking forward to any big races, but yeah, it’s therapy to me.

Interviewer: What’s the best advice you could give to others for paddling?

For paddling, have fun. Give it, paddle hard and have fun. I learned that, I heard that a few times from one of our fellow paddlers. He’s passed on but he had the best advice. Go out there and give ‘em hell and have fun. That was a Dale Johnson quote. He was a really, really nice man.

Interviewer: Is there anyone you want to acknowledge?

My family first and foremost. They’ve supported me along the way. Yeah, they’ve had to put up with me in my lowest points of being miserable and tired. There were a few times when I went on these long rides and I just came home miserable and they had to put up with me. Yeah, my family first and foremost, yes.

Len’s passion for his culture, hard work and paddling have made him a role model in the Coast Salish community, and we are proud to celebrate his success.

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