CORNER BROOK Jeff Martin was recently elected as provincial director for Paddle Canada, the national body advocating for non-competitive canoeing and kayaking development courses.
While his election in August is still fresh, Martin said his goal is to increase membership so people can see the benefits of paddling.
He’s hoping to bring numbers up and further establish the “fairly strong cohort” of paddlers, already on this side of the island, though training.
Developing more skilled paddlers, he said, enables people to enjoy the sports more, and simultaneously become safer at them.
“The courses go well beyond the paddling realm,” he said. “Skills obtained during the courses are transferable to other areas of life: leadership, decision-making and professionalism.”
The number of canoers on the west coast, he said, are down from what they were traditionally, which can be seen in the number of canoe instructors offering Paddle Canada regulated courses in the area.
There are about five people who offer canoeing instruction on the west coast, compared to double the number offering beginner to intermediate kayaking courses.
More advanced training, Martin said, is mostly offered on the east coast because of the population out there.
Martin, who has been paddling for about 15 years, said his main responsibility will be to liaise with the public and stakeholders to ignite a strong paddling culture for the entire province.
“We try to promote fun” he said. “(All disciplines of) paddling are fun and we try to promote it in a fun manner.”
To jumpstart this process, he hopes to give public presentations on his recent kayaking adventures around the province.
Martin moved to Corner Brook nine years ago to instruct at the Adventure Tourism–Outdoor Recreation program at College of the North Atlantic.
Paddle Canada also supports paddleboarding (paddling standing up) and river/whitewater kayaking development.