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Paddling community develops in Inuvik
Canoe skills and instructor-training course for Beaufort Delta paddlers

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nine paddlers from across the Beaufort Delta braved the cool, cloudy and rainy weather last weekend to become canoe instructors and gain hope in building a recreational paddling community.

NNSL photo/graphic

Athena Grandjambe, front, and Cheryl Greenland, back, paddle their canoes during an instructor training course on Boot Lake on Aug 7. They received certification as paddling instructors under Paddle Canada. - Samantha Stokell/NNSL photos

The paddlers learned flat water canoeing skills and how to teach them during the course which ran from Aug. 5 to 7 on Boot Lake in Inuvik. Participants from Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk and Fort McPherson attended the course, which is designed to build up the recreational paddling in those communities and is sponsored by the NWT Recreation and Parks Association.

"One great feature of the course is that two paddlers will be trained to become teacher trainers," said Wendy Lahey, the association's training manager.

"What we're trying to do is build capacity for canoe trips with youth."

By having paddling instructors in the communities, there will be more training opportunities and local paddlers won't have to wait for southern instructors to travel North. Lahey hopes communities will then take the time to organize multi-day trips.

Inuvik paddler Janet Boxwell received her certification from Paddle Canada to teach instructors. Now that Inuvik has a recreational paddling instructor, she hopes to build a sustainable paddling community.

"We don't want to change how people paddle in Inuvik, we just want to create a paddling community," Boxwell said. "Now we can get instructors trained here instead of waiting for them to come up here. Even with all sorts of experience, they need certification."

Participants in the course learned basic paddling skills such as how to turn, how to stop, how to reverse as well as safety on both land and water. For testing these skills, they had to do figure eights, which shows complete control over the boat and shows how comfortable they are manoeuvring it.

The instructor training included four components designed to help people plan trips for youth or groups. Risk management, field practices, crisis management and administration are all key factors when planning for a trip. Through those sections, paddlers learned that every canoeist should wear a personal flotation device, have an extra paddle, whistle, throw-bag and bailer, and that everyone should wear shoes that won't come off.

Other safe practices include preparation for bear sightings, how to travel in a group and how to be a lead or sweep boat. Administration for the course involved health forms, providing information to parents and clothing lists. Crisis management included medical protocol in case people got hurt, how to evaluate the situation and knowing what to do for each degree of injury.

Inuvik has a racing canoe club and a traditional qayaq club, but not a recreational paddling club. The course saw two trained as instructor-trainers, four trained as instructors and three paddlers receive skill certification.

The canoes were donated by Aurora College and the class was free, except for a $70 membership into Paddle Canada.

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