Bella Bella Board Builders

Teacher Chris Williamson’s Mini Mal

A couple of weeks ago I went to Bella Bella to work on a new website for the SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) program that I work for in Hartley Bay. I always enjoy visiting Bella Bella; it’s a beautiful place with great people. I was staying with Ian and Karen McAllister and I was really excited to drop into Chris Williamson’s wood working class up at the high school to check out the new wooden SUP’s the students are building. Last year Chris and his class built 10 wooden SUP’s and afterwards I had the chance to do a Paddle Canada Intro to SUP course for them. You can check that out from my previous blog here.

Last years class with their boards they made.
This year there are 7 students building boards so I stopped in to the class to say hi and see what stage they were at in the building process. The students were just getting started with the forms for their boards to be built on which can be a slow process and not the most rewarding part of the board building process. I had a good conversation with the class about boards, designs and paddleboarding. Chris and his class had chosen a great design this year going with an 11-foot board that will be over 30 inches wide. These boards will be great all around boards and great on the flat-water with enough rocker to charge some outer islands reefs and beach breaks. Local artist Ian Reid has offered his skills to design the native logo to be incorporated into each board. The class then watched the Standup4Greatbear documentary and it was the first time that I had brought the film to the community so the students were pretty stoked, especially once they saw me paddling into Heiltsuk territory and finally ending the paddle on the shores of Waglisla (Bella Bella). Chris and his class have been so inspiring for me and I know for a lot of others who have followed this story. Filmmakers Anthony Bonello and Nicolas Teichrob have already been up here documenting the class’s story. They will be part of a bigger film project we are working on called StandFilm. I have seen the rough trailer for the film and it looks amazing. I am really excited that these students will be showcased in the film.
Heiltsuk youth watching Standup4Greatbear

Once the students complete their boards Ian McAllister has offered to take us down to one of the outer central coast islands where we will spend three days in early June teaching these new students how to standup paddleboard. This remote island has stunning white sand beaches and beautiful surf so we are hoping there will be a nice swell hitting the coast so I can also teach the students how to paddle surf. I have never been to this particular island and i am really excited to get there. This is going to be a great opportunity to test out some new inflatable boards, the SHUBU and the Badfish MVP by Boardworkssurf Canada.

The Bella Bella Boardworks Crew


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