Youth Leadership Paddle Program (YLPP) has been offered by Sea To Cedar since 2017 with support from A̱ka̱la Society. Thank you to Sea to Cedar for holding space for this program since 2017. In 2022, the program was organized solely by A̱ka̱la Society, making it a program by Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w for Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w. This continues in 2023, with the addition of a second expedition.

The YLPP provides Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w youth with certifiable canoeing skills and leadership training. No previous paddling experience is required. There is no cost for the program. If you participated last year, please apply again! We are happy to have any previous participants join the group. 

YLPP is a 7 to 13 day trip that includes a 1.5-day paddle school, a 5 to 10-day canoe expedition and a post program graduation ceremony. During the journey the participants learn outdoor skills such as:

  • setting up shelters,
  • cooking,
  • paddling,
  • starting a fire,
  • reading tides charts,
  • navigation and,
  • compass work.

Intertwined in these lessons is our traditional knowledge of how we used the lands and waters, traditional place names, medicines and foods. The youth participate in evening discussions with topics such as: value systems, decolonization, neuroplasticity, and overcoming adversity. As the expedition progresses there is a gradual transfer of responsibility from the instructors to the participants. The participants are set up for success and given opportunities to challenge themselves. They receive certification through Paddle Canada upon completion of the program. The course culminates in a celebration ceremony to honor the accomplishments of the participants.

The exact route is determined closer to the trip. We will be paddling in the traditional territory of the Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w. To get a feel for what this program offers view this video of the 2019 program.

There is no fee for participants; however, some gear (such as rain jacket/pants) is required. If needed, the program will help participants find the necessary gear. No one will be turned away because they do not have the proper gear. Transportation between Port McNeill and expedition start and end locations is covered. If you require transportation up island please let us know and we will help you find a ride.

For summer 2023, we are offering two Youth Paddle Programs: Thrill and Chill


Length: 13 days Theme: Leadership

Trip: TBD Dates: July 15-27, 2023

Ages: 15-30

The Thrill Expedition is an intensive trip that would push participants safely outside of their comfort zones. The paddling days are long, and navigation/tide/weather lessons are in depth and detailed. There is a strong focus on leadership through a Musgamkw Dzawada̱’enux̱w lens. The group discusses Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w history/governance, the history of colonialism, and how we can uplift our way of being in the world we now live in.

Chill – FULL

Length: 7 days Theme: Healing

Trip: Islands around Xoxopa (Insect Island) Dates: July 31 – August 6, 2023

Ages: 11-17

The Chill Expedition focuses on healing through rest, fun and connection to family and our ancestral territories. The trip itself and the time spent paddling each day are short, take a relaxed pace and approach to paddling to be accessible to all skills and abilities. There would be an emphasis on playing games, intentional rest, and reflection. Cultural skills and learning opportunities will be incorporated throughout the program.

Contact Julia at if you have any questions.