Youth Development through Kayak Building

During late January, world-renowned Greenlandic kayaker and builder Maligiaq Padilla worked alongside Kokhanok children, teachers, and parents carving locally sourced wood. While they built, he taught the history of arctic sea kayaking. After two weeks, four traditional hand-crafted kayaks graced the school’s halls.

Padilla keeps kayak-building tradition alive by leading workshops around the world, including the Alaskan communities of Kokhanok and Pedro Bay. Pedro Bay participated in a workshop first and quickly informed Kokhanok, who also wanted to take advantage of their area’s natural resources and to provide children with cultural experiences. Kokhanok lacked the resources but they were able to contact the Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP) for support.

We provide grants to communities like Kokhanok by partnering with the Division of Juvenile Justice, who finances community-based projects because they are proven to lower the disproportionate number of minorities in the corrections system.

After Kokhanok applied for and received a grant, we facilitated the workshop through the village administrator Lysa Lacson. Those involved enjoyed the entire process from the organization and set-up to the building itself. Lacson reports that the kayak project “was definitely one of the most (if not the most) fun for me to organize” and that “everybody enjoyed it…All the kids and teachers had a fun time.”

Of the four kayaks, two were raffled off to community members, one will be raffled or auctioned for fundraising purpose, and one remains at the Kokhanok Village Council office.  Lacson hopes that the activity inspires community members to pursue other cultural building opportunities.

Learn more about our Youth Development & Culture Grants today.

By Emi Bartholomew