Boat building returns for students at PLFN

Community Featured
From left: Alden Francis, Dr. Shane Theunissen, Kailan Hammond, Ethan Francis, Theresa Pace and Nicholas Strickland work on one of the boats. (Goodwin photo)

PICTOU LANDING — Boat building has created team building for students at Pictou Landing First Nation.

Grade 5 and 6 students gathered in the gym to learn how to build two small rowboats that would eventually be transported to open water to test their workmanship and the boats’ seaworthiness.

“We started it last year,” said Lacey Colombe, who teaches the 12 Grade 5 and 6 students taking part in the project. “They love it. It’s attracting a lot of different learners too.”

Colombe said Grade 6 students have embraced a leadership role. “(They) have been the leaders because they did it last year,” she said. “It’s been a confidence booster for them.”

Two valuable resources who enjoy working with kids have helped the boat building along. They include Eamonn Doorly, a shipwright and assistant curator of small craft at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and Dr. Shane Theunissen, assistant professor in Mount Saint Vincent University’s Department of Child and Youth Study.

“Shane contacted us to see if we’d be interested and it has become a yearly project,” Colombe said.

“I come from a sailing background,” said Theunissen, who previously worked with First Nation residents in a community on the Ontario side of Hudson’s Bay.

“Most Nova Scotians are from a maritime culture,” he said. “Boats like this were everywhere in these communities 40 years ago. For me, the idea is linking education and contextual learning. We can link these elements to boat building. Strong community living is building linkages.”

Doorly said he is enthused by how keen the students are to learn the general details of carpentry as they help build the boats. “It’s the highlight of my year,” he said.

The three-day schedule started on June 5 and included installing the centre frame and attaching the bottom of the boats on the first day. Installing the rub rails and seat risers were among work pieces on June 6. Oar locks were attached on June 7 before launching the boats built.


From left: Eamonn Doorly helps Evan Beadle with his sawing technique.

(Goodwin photo)