The One People Canoe Society will lead a canoe paddle workshop in Klawock next week. Native carvers Doug Chilton and Jim Zeller will guide participants in carving 15 red cedar paddles for the 2014 Paddle to Celebration Canoe Journey.
The 2014 Celebration is a gathering of tribes from around Alaska in Juneau starting June 11th. It’s a Sealaska event that takes place every other year.
Juneau-based artist Doug Chilton is one of the leaders of the Klawock paddle workshop. He’s taught paddle workshops in about five other Alaska towns in preparation for the canoe journey.
“The idea is to help people connect with who they are,” Chilton said. “I think that it’s making big difference, we’re out in all the different communities, but we’re making them active and reconnecting them with their background.”
The One People Canoe Society is hosting the carving workshop in partnership with Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC. An employee from SEARHC will incorporate a 20-minute youth suicide prevention training into each day of the paddle carving workshop.
Chilton says the purpose of the class is to foster team work.
“The idea is to not teach them how to make a paddle, but to teach them to work together,” he said. “We want them to create a whole set of paddles for their canoe, for their crew. And doing it in such a short amount of time, they have to be able to work together or they don’t get it done. And it’s the same way on the canoe, you have to be able to work together, or the canoe doesn’t move.”
The workshop takes place Monday, April 28th through Thursday, May 1st from 3:30 to 8 p.m. each day. It’s open to anyone 15 years or older. Call 965-0040 to sign up in advance.