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Portage Paddle Workshop with Squamish Nation artist set to begin

Adult sessions starting Oct. 4 guide participants as they create their own paddles.
If you have ever wanted to learn how to carve your own paddle, this may be your chance.

The next Portage Paddle Workshop registration for adults is now open. The program will run over nine evenings from Oct. 4 to 21.

This is the third Portage workshop, which is led by Squamish Nation artist Art Harry.

Multidisciplinary Squamish-based artist Lenny Rubenovitch helps organize the courses and shares with participants his knowledge of trees through stories.

"The program builds a great experience of camaraderie and it is a fun time," said Rubenovitch. "Participants can take a lot from the workshop and develop — hopefully — an appreciation and passion for working with wood."

The sessions are accessible for those who have never worked with wood and for those who are more advanced.

Students get a piece of cedar and tools and can choose how simple or complex they want their paddle design to be.

"We really facilitate it and give them enough courage to put in the time to make the paddle. That is, really what it comes down to is a little bit of mentorship and lots of providing of space and time to show that they really do have the skills within themselves."

The sessions can go ahead because of community support, Rubenovitch stressed.

The Squamish Men's Shed came on board with the program last year, and its members have been a considerable support, Rubenovitch said.

"With honing and sharpening and making sure our tools are on point," he said.

Van Urban Timber has supplied wood and is a supporter of the program, Rubenovitch said.

AJ Forest Products, which suffered a dramatic fire to their facility last month, has also been a big supporter of the program, Rubenovitch said.

The Squamish Arts Council presents the workshop; the last session was for youth, in partnership with Sea to Sky Community Services.

"That went well. The participants enjoyed it," he said.

On Thursday, the RCMP are taking out the participants of that program on a canoe at Alice Lake.

"It will be nice taking the youth out with their paddles that they did themselves."

The classes take place at the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival grounds.

To register, go here.

To sponsor or help support the Portage classes, contact Rubenovitch at lennyrubenovitch@gmail.com