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In-person Indigenous Skills workshops returned to Victoria for the first time in a long time, this past June, marking a welcome return to traditional instruction and an opportunity to introduce small groups of enthusiastic youth to contemporary trades and traditional knowledge. In consideration of the continued pandemic, both the Esquimalt First Nation and the Indigenous Skills team ensured that safety protocols were in place.

Artist Dean Heron was on hand to lead two groups through the creation of traditional Paddle Pendants, which have become one of the most popular workshops developed for the Indigenous Skills team.

The day-long workshop at Esquimalt Nation began with a shared breakfast in the Community Centre was followed by an introduction from Dean, who gave an overview of carving Paddle Pendants and offered a safety briefing for all participants. Although the participants were younger in age, ranging from 10 – 14 years old – a handful already had experience working on carving projects!

 “It’s an interesting process of weaving provincial health guidelines into group work, while also reconnecting cultural protocol to contemporary skill building,” said Dean. “That being said it’s exciting to take the workshop off Zoom for a moment”

Following breakfast and instructions from Dean, our young carvers started on their pendants. Dean and supervisors assisted, when necessary, while continuing the discussion about technique. 

“It’s amazing to witness the youth build on their craftsmanship and focus” added Dean. ” I am happy to see them build experience with traditional uses of Cedar, wood working tools and safety protocols of a shop” 

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