Beecher Bay ‘nominees’ take frigid dip in Metchosin lake

Phenomenon spreads through Vancouver Island's First Nations communities

Beecher Bay First Nation Chief Russ Chipps

Beecher Bay First Nation Chief Russ Chipps

As 13-year-old Danielle Charles-Horne left Matheson Lake shivering and dripping, she said, “I think it’s really cool we all did this.”

The Beecher Bay teen was nominated to jump in a cold body of water by a cousin.

But why do such a wacky thing in the middle of winter?

If you frequent social media, you may have seen videos of people jumping into the ocean or lakes. These brave souls are participating in the Winter Nominations 2014 challenge. The phenomenon, designed to get people outdoors, has been going viral, mainly through First Nations communities on Vancouver Island and beyond.

“I’ve heard of people in Nanaimo doing it and in New Mexico,” said Rick Peter of Cowichan First Nation.

Once people have been nominated, they have a tight 24-hour window to brave the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean or a lake or dive into snow.

More than 20 members of the Beecher Bay First Nation who had been nominated – via videos posted on social media sites – hopped into Matheson Lake in Metchosin on Tuesday. Once out of the water, wrapped in blankets and standing in the rain, they, too, created videos nominating their friends and family.

“My cousin nominated me. It’s nice and I feel pretty good,” said Sharon Cooper. “I think it’s great and it brings everyone together for fun.”

The challenge began last month at Penelakut First Nation on the former Kuper Island near Chemainus. A teen from the community wanted her cousins to join her in playing in the snow. They were content to stay indoors and play video games, so the girl went outside and made a video of herself making a snow angel. Then she nominated five cousins to do the same and posted it on Facebook.

Another Penelakut resident, Krista Johnny, thought it was neat the challenges started in her community and has heard of it travelling as far away as Australia. “It’s just a great way to get people out and doing things together,” she said.

Among the brave lake-dippers Tuesday was Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, who was nominated by several people despite not using social media. Aware of the broad reach of the challenges, he added a cause to his participation.

“I am against cyber-bullying and that’s why I am not on those sites,” he said. “I am doing this for anti-bullying.”

charla@goldstreamgazette.com

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