Paddling Towards Understanding

Fifth annual youth canoe trip proves ‘we are all in the same boat’

In three, 26-foot voyageur canoes, they paddled around the Kawartha Lakes region for a week. Strangers to one another, the youth came from the Micmac First Nation in Nova Scotia, the Mohawk First Nation from Akwesasne, and the Curve Lake and Alderville First Nations. Youth from New Zealand, Australia and Mexico and nine non-Indigenous youth from southern Ontario also joined.

It was a time to build understanding of one another, to come together as Indigenous and non-Indigenous and discover the common humanity among them. It was a chance for the youth to connect with each other, the land and waters in the Kawartha Lakes area and with the Ojibway/Anishnaabe elders from Curve Lake First Nation.

They played traditional games, harvested food and sweet grass, camped out in various wilderness locations, carved soap stone, sang and cooked around the campfires. They also visited the Petroglyphs (KinomaageWaapkong).

Glen Caradus, a leader for the program, describes the time with the elders as especially precious: “To hear the drum songs and learn about the importance and sacredness of water and the earth… (as well as) the long history of the wild rice harvest that many of the youth discussed and reflected on as we paddled.”

He was also inspired to hear the youth engrossed in conversations on topics such as reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

On the last day in August, the whole group joined in a rare feast and celebration at the Curve Lake Community Centre, followed by a tree-planting ceremony.

Glen was especially moved to hear several of the youth say they planned to share their experience back in their various communities as well as to continue the work of reconciliation.

“I think this trip proves that we are all ‘in the same boat’ and can ‘pull together’,” he says.

The 5th annual Rotary Peterborough-Kawartha “Adventure in Understanding” canoe trip from Peterborough (Nogojiwanong) to Curve Lake First Nation (Oshkigmong) took place from Sunday Aug. 26 to Friday Aug. 31. The trip is supported by Curve Lake First Nation, Camp Kawartha and The Canadian Canoe Museum.

Visit the Adventure in Understanding site to learn more:

Rodney Fuentes has filmed and is producing a documentary about the trip. Visit



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