About Us

The Kootenay Robusters began in early 2001, the brainchild of a Trail nurse and breast cancer survivor. After hearing about the ‘Abreast in A Boat’ teams, she and several other women whose lives had been touched by breast cancer decided to start a local team and so, with no dragon boat, no paddling experience, and the closest lake miles away, the Robusters team was formed.

Women from the Kootenay communities of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together, with the initial goal of competing in Vancouver’s dragon boat festival in June. Members included both breast cancer survivors and associate paddlers who joined to support the survivors.

The women embarked on a strength and fitness program, and after leasing a dragon boat from the coast, began paddling in late May on Christina Lake. With just one month’s training the team headed to Vancouver. In September the team raced in Kelowna, placing 2nd in the Breast Cancer Challenge race.

Dragon Boats and Breast Cancer

The association between breast cancer and dragon boats goes back to 1996. At that time it was widely held that repetitive upper body movements led to lymphedema, an irreversible swelling of the arm and chest that is a common complication of breast cancer.

A Vancouver sports medicine physician, Dr. Don McKenzie decided to test this belief by conducting a medical study of 25 women, who began an exercise training program involving dragon boat paddling. The results of the study indicated that repetitive upper body exercise like paddling does not cause lymphedema, and the myth was laid to rest.

The first dragon boat team, ‘Abreast In A Boat’, has served as inspiration for teams not only in BC, but around the world. What began as a study has grown into a network of women who are increasing awareness of breast cancer, exploring their limits, building strength and physical fitness, and providing each other with emotional support and camaraderie.

There are now more than fifty breast cancer survivor teams world-wide, competing at many Canadian and international dragon boat festivals while raising breast cancer awareness.


For More Information About the Robusters

Rossland: Jan Micklethwaite, 250-362-5289
Trail: Deb LeRose, 250-364-0993
Christina Lake: Tamara Ogloff, 250-442-6102
Grand Forks: Tamara Ogloff, 250-442-6102
Castlegar: Joy Andersen, 250-365-3794

Supporting Us

If you would like to donate....

We are a non-profit society and registered charity. Any donation to help cover team costs is greatly appreciated. Please send e-transfers to:

Please make cheques payable to:

Kootenay Robusters
c/o Team Treasurer
#36 - 2210 Columbia Ave.
Castlegar, BC
V1N 2X1