Omar Paddling

Omar Paddling

NWTLC’s Community Connections program organized three potluck and paddling picnics for newcomers this summer. At every picnic, participants could hop in a canoe to try paddling. Fred Henne Territorial Park organized voyageur canoe rides from Narwal Outdoor Adventures for the August picnic. Newcomers and their children also got to try stand-up paddle boarding if they were keen. The idea is to introduce newcomers to a new northern experience. Omar and his family went on the water for the first time after 10 years in Canada. They were keen participants as you can read in the blog below.

  • Karen Johnson, Community Connections Coordinator

Hey everyone! Today, I will share with you how my family and I got acquainted with paddle boarding and made it part of our family! It all began with a tinge of hesitation whilst peacefully immersed in the comfortable beach sand. “I’m not sure”…these were my first words when Nimi literally pushed me to go out on the water and paddle. “I need to keep an eye on the kids as well”. I tried to push back using a slew of excuses, but I knew she would counter that and say, “I got them, you go”. Little did I realize I would discover a different way of falling in love with the lake…again. Raised in a coastal city I already held the sand and beach close to heart, but never ventured beyond.

As I balanced my knees on the paddleboard, suddenly I had a familiar sensation of adrenaline kick in me when I took the paddle from one of the instructors. They were giving me tips and were a bit concerned as it was my first time going out solo on the lake. Little did they know I would breach the markers I wasn’t supposed to go beyond. Neither did I, at the time of boarding.

My first learning experience out on the lake qualified as a “non-traditional learning space” because there weren’t any parents, teachers, classmates, or books with me. Hey, I wasn’t even in a classroom with doors and windows! I was out on my own discovering, by trial and error, how to navigate the paddleboard at different angles, sweeps, and most importantly, how not to fall in the middle of the lake. While paddling I rediscovered my love for water, the beach, the lake…all of it! To top it up, the calm, serene, and peaceful atmosphere away from the distractions of the city, rush for money, materialistic gains… This spot was probably among the top few where one could have their mind at peace.

It is these aspects of self-learning and discovery that are vital pillars in underlining an unconventional learning space as an ideal place to build resiliency and teach skills and knowledge. It does this in a manner that even a typical textbook with vivid colors and illustrious images simply cannot. This is the importance of engaging in a “non-traditional learning space”, especially a picnic.  A picnic brings together individuals who are usually on different wavelengths and from different backgrounds, but who enable each other to try out new fun-filled activities and learn more about different faiths, backgrounds, and cultures.

And yes, the family loved the experience so much we ended up buying four life jackets and a paddleboard the same week.

  • Omar Ehtesham, Community Connections Program participant

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