The Construction Foundation of BC’s ‘All Roads’ initiative recently completed one of their most ambitious workshops to date! The team worked together alongside Kikekyelc’s Indigenous Youth Services Life Skills Program, members of the Thomas Rivers University’s (TRU) Trades & Technology department and Master Carver, Frank Marchand to coordinate a three-week, six-session Paddle Carving workshop with youth. With safety at the forefront of all CFBC’s activities, mask and physical distancing protocols were a key priority throughout the duration of the workshop.
Youth residing at Kikekyelc started to come forward with interest in the All Roads Project, and Life Skills Facilitator & Program Coordinator Sharon Balmer mentioned that the Life Skills Group was going to celebrate the completion of their program with a canoe journey. As a result of the recently completed and successful Paddle Pendant workshop—a previous workshop facilitated by the All Roads program—the All Roads team presented the idea of youth crafting their own paddle for the celebration and were met with enthusiasm from both Balmer and the Kikekyelc residential community.
Lii Michif Otipemisiwak (LMO) located in Kamloops, is a Metis Child and Family Service Agency. The agency played a vital role behind the construction of the “Kikekyelc: A place of belonging”, a 31-unit condo-style building development that houses Indigenous youth aged 16-27 who have aged out of care.
Ten youth took part in the paddle building sessions, with some of those youth able to craft not just one, but two paddles. At the conclusion of the workshops, participants were given the option to personalize their paddles by adding their own designs.
Participants were introduced to contemporary trade skills and tools, as well as traditional shaping techniques and wood burning tools to add designs to their paddles over six individual workshop sessions. In addition to hands-on experiences, youth also had the opportunity to meet staff from Thompson Rivers University and were able to experience and become familiarized with the Trades and Technology building at the university.
“There was a level of comfortableness and a sense of safety that was attained over the course of these workshops,” said the Construction of BC Foundation’s Director of First Nation Initiatives Michelle Canaday. “As a result, youth were able to envision themselves as possible students. They could see themselves being a part of the building that, prior to this workshop was a foreign space to them.”
Due to chilly, early spring weather, completing the work outdoors was not possible.
“Through connections with TRU’s Trade and Technology Department, a space was located and graciously offered for use to safely complete the paddles,” added Canaday. “Dwayne Geiger, a Partnership Transition Coordinator graciously volunteered to stay after hours so the space could be used by this group of youth.”
One of the students involved in the workshops and construction of Kikekyelc expressed an interest in enrolling in the TRU Carpentry Program following the carving workshops.
‘He will become a participant in the All Roads project and we will work with his mentor Dwayne on his enrolment,” Canaday added. “I think that by having an opportunity to be in the Trades building with a group he was familiar with and felt safe with and the relationships he was able to develop over the course of the workshops has contributed to these amazing steps towards a career for this young man!’
The All Roads team will continue to work with Lii Michif Otipemisiwak and the youth of Kikekyelc moving forward as exciting new opportunities become available.
ABOUT LII MICHIF OPTIPEMISIWAK
Lii Michif Optipemisiwak’s vision is that all Métis children, youth and families live with love, honour, dignity and respect knowing they belong to a strong, proud People with a unique heritage and cultural identity. Learn more at https://lmofcs.ca.
ABOUT ALL ROADS
ALL ROADS partners with First Nations communities in a holistic manner to develop pathways that are inclusive, celebratory and community based. Learn more at https://www.constructionfoundation.ca/allroads.