Spokane Area Welcomes Dugout Canoe Project
Story Submitted by: Adam Wicks-Arshack, Program Director & Wilderness Guide
Voyages of Rediscovery is a river-based environmental education non-profit program based on the Columbia River. We have been running educational canoe trips for the past five years from the Canadian border all the way down to Astoria and the Pacific Ocean. During this time, over 1500 youth have paddled in our canoes!
We are currently up in Northern Ontario building Birch Bark Canoes with Native youth on Lake Temagami. It has been an incredible experience thus far. The youth have helped in every facet of the process from harvesting the birch bark to building the canoe. On Sunday, the day of the community's Pow Pow, the young people who helped build this 18ft canoe will launch their canoe on its maiden voyage around the island. The tribe here just hired 5 high school students to work for/with us for the next month. They will build 2 canoes as well, one with our help and suggestions and the second completely on their own, we will simply be observers! Check out our blog for more info and updates.
We will return to Washington State on August 20th and will immediately begin another canoe building project, this time with the young people of Kettle Falls, WA. We will be set up at the Kettle Falls Historical Center and will build 2 big canoes, one 25-30ft. dugout and one split cedar ribbed canoe (David Thompson style). The canoes will stay with the community and we hope to set up some sort of sustainable paddling program for the town.
Our plan is to facilitate the building of many dugout canoes with and for the young people living along and near the Columbia River. When young people are involved in building their own canoe, it creates a sense of ownership of the work they have completed. When these same young people paddle the canoe they built on the Columbia River, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility to the Columbia River, their Backyard River. Using canoes as a medium for education, we would like to help foster a new generation of Columbia River stewards. Our educational philosophy revolves around teaching our students the importance of inquiry. By experiencing, first hand, the greater world around them our students are given the opportunity to make observations of, connect with, and ask questions of this "greater world" they are experiencing for themselves.