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Community shed program big success in Nain

Traditional skin on frame kayak, lashing in the deck beams.
Traditional skin on frame kayak, lashing in the deck beams. - Submitted

A pilot project offering Nain residents an opportunity to learn new woodworking skills while socializing with people of all ages has turned out to be a great success.
Neil Hawkes is the community shed’s program co-ordinator. The woodworking shop is an initiative of the Nunatsiavut government’s department of health and social development. 
The shed opened in February 2017.
“It’s still ongoing and everyone’s loving it,” Hawkes said.
The woodworking shop is open weekday afternoons from 1- 6 pm, he said.
People can go to the shed and work on their own projects with the tools available to them or can work on group projects, Hawkes said.
“I’m there to help teach people how to use the tools if they don’t know how or if they have a question about a project, we can work through that,” he said.
The shed also offers various workshops where participants can help make everything from a kamutik to a kayak.
“People may drop in for an hour or so to try it or maybe they will come from the start to finish,” Hawkes said.
Currently, Hawkes said, there are a number of kayaks, in different stages of construction, in the shed. The kayak project is in partnership with Noah Nochasak, he said.
Workshops have also been held where participants made smaller projects such as an ulu (traditional knife).
“We had someone come in to help teach that. We try to bring in community members wherever possible,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes’s background is in furniture making, woodworking and cabinetry. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. 
Children ten years and older can work on projects in the shed. However, participants must be 15 to use the power tools, Hawkes said.
“A lot of young kids are coming in with really creative ideas. They are learning how to do things and learning some basic skills... They can make little toys to take out and play in the snow with, little model skidoos.”
A maximum of ten people are permitted to work in the shed at the same time, Hawkes said. 
“Sometimes, we have to tell people to come back in a little bit. We tell them it’s full here now.”
There is no cost to participate in workshops or use the shed, Hawkes said. There is also scrap wood available for smaller projects and larger pieces of materials for sale. People can also bring their own material, he said.
Hawkes said temporary funding has come through to keep the shed open. As well he said, other communities along the coast are also interested in opening a community shed in their area.
While participants have been taught to build sleds, benches, knifes, tables and chairs, the socialization that goes on during project construction is also very important, Hawkes said.
“It’s really good to see elders in there, younger people in there, middle-aged people in there. And everyone is helping everyone. They are sharing their knowledge. It’s really interesting to see a young kid teaching someone who is much older than them, something that they’ve learned. And older people teaching younger people something they’ve learned back in their childhood.”

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