Paddling in Partnership - The SENCOTEN Canoe Project
The purpose of the SENCOTEN Canoe Project is to conduct a culturally specific teaching and learning exercise that will strengthen the relationship between Indigenous Governance (IGOV) and the local Indigenous community of Tsartlip in WSANAEC Nation (Saanich). The project offers opportunities for teaching and learning that are not traditionally conducted in the UVic classroom but provide for hands-on training and teaching about the SENCOTEN culture, language and ways of life for IGOV students, staff and faculty, as well as members of the Indigenous community.
We are in the process of building a traditional seagoing canoe. Project participants include Master Carver Charles Elliott, IGOV students, faculty and staff, as well as community members. The project is housed at Charles Elliott's carving studio on Tsartlip reservation. The "carving shed" serves as the classroom and Charles leads participants in carving, reinforcing the importance of traditional ways of teaching and providing for an authentic Indigenous learning situation. This experiential learning opportunity, coupled with the student's academic experiences in the classroom, allows for a comprehensive and culturally relevant educational experience.
This project also brings together members from the local Indigenous community with the intention of creating a shared learning situation. SENCOTEN names and language are used in naming and recognition ceremonies and Indigenous youth from the local schools are invited to take part in ceremonies to encourage sharing of knowledge between generations and cultures.
On completion of the project the canoe will be donated to the Saanich community and people as a lasting legacy of the relationships that were built and nurtured throughout the project. The finished canoe will be housed by the artist and he will be appointed as its caretaker.