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Safety Lines: The Four Pillars of Your Courses


The Four Pillars of Your Courses

Paddle Canada has four pillars that define our future and measure our progress: safety, education programs, environment and heritage. The first two are easily understood given the purpose and function of Paddle Canada. The last two pillars refer to the cultural identity of the Canadian paddling community, and are integral values to Paddle Canada and our programs.

As Kirk Wipper put it, “Our vessels have two pointy ends.  One points back into our past; the past that tells the story of how Canada grew. The other end points to the future, reconnecting us to the important things in life: health, family and Canada’s peaceful and serene nature.”

Heritage must remain a vital component of all of Paddle Canada’s educational programs.  We must point out the importance of our past, and pass its lessons to future generations.

Kirk would always remind us of the unique ways that canoes and kayaks helped forge our nation. With the guidance of the First Nations, Canada’s borders were staked out in canoes by European explorers. The fur trade motived the initial exploration. Outposts throughout the interior soon followed. The canoe is the common thread between these two events of cooperation between First Nations and European explorers.

Paddling can serve as a conduit for the present and future generations to connect with the great outdoors that was and continues to be the foundation of Canada. Teaching others how the historical trade and exploration routes helped shape Canada will convey valuable lessons of our cultural and paddling past. That understanding of the past will remind Canadians of the importance of Canada’s natural environment, exploration and discovery, and also the importance of building positive relations with other peoples, especially First Nations.

As paddlers we have a unique view of the environment and the continuing changes and destruction caused by wonton disrespect. We paddle down rivers and into coves along shorelines that most people will never see. We can see destruction caused by industry, rampant consumerism and reckless campers. We also see the majesty of the environment in the closest and most remote areas that non-paddlers would probably never see. As instructors and advanced paddlers, we have the opportunity to make people passionate about exploring and preserving the environment. This passion for paddling will almost always develop a collateral passion and appreciation of conservation. If we want to leave quality environment for our future generations, then as an organisation and as individual instructors, we must recognize our unique ability to generate passion for paddling and the environment. Teaching Leave No Trace principles and encouraging paddlers to be diligent with reporting environmental abuses will continue to be reflections of a central pillar of Paddle Canada. What better place to start than on your next Paddle Canada course offering.

Happy Paddl’n,

Eric Williams

President Emeritus,  Paddle Canada