Building connections in Eden
A project to help people learn how to build canoes is helping form connections across culture and different church denominations, with the support of a local Uniting Church.
Eden Canoes is a NSW Government Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund (BCRRF) Project which aims to train 18 canoe builders and enable 120 school students to build, decorate, and paddle canoes. Indigenous builders, artists, mentors, and elders assist students to build the canoes and teach them about cultural heritage during construction, art, and paddling tours.
The program looks to build community cohesion through shared activity and cultural awareness. The project is open to diverse groups of indigenous and non-indigenous people, with the aim of generating respect across cultures. The workshops encourage the appreciation and celebration of Indigenous culture and sights of cultural significance in and around the Eden and Pambula Waterways.
The major sponsors of Eden Canoes are the NSW Government BCRRF and Anglicare NSW South and NSW West & ACT. In addition, sponsorship and support-in-kind is received from many sources, in particular: Twofold Aboriginal Corporation, Eden Marine High, Katungul, Campbell Page, Eden Aboriginal Evangelical Church, Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish, Eden Uniting Church, the Eden Community Access Centre, and Friends of St. Michael’s Anglican Church, Vaucluse.
Eden Uniting Church has an active role in supporting the project and volunteering. Two members from the Eden Uniting Church have been trained as Canoe Builders and volunteer at the Student Workshops. Eden Uniting Church has provided material support and prayer. Rev Michael Palmer is in part-time placement with the congregation and is also in part-time ministry with Anglicare. Across these two ministry roles, Rev. Palmer is Project Manager for Eden Canoes.
Rev. Palmer’s shared ministry is viewed by both the Anglican Diocese and Canberra Region Presbytery as a co-beneficial role where both Anglicare and the Uniting Church can see benefit. Eden Canoes is one area of making some progress in this collaborative endeavour.
A documentary about Eden Canoes is available for viewing on Vimeo.
Rev. Andrew Smith and Rev. Michael Palmer