Indigenous: How to Carve a Wooden Paddle

Pat Calihou is recognized by the Metis Nation of BC for his creative outreach and education in schools. communities and correctional institutions. A skilled artist and carver, Pat works with wood and art that connects him with his heritage. Preserve Indigenous knowledge and culture by learning how to work with wood and carve a small paddle below.


  • coping saw, scroll saw or jig saw
  • small clamp carving tool (hand planes work best for this type of project)
  • sandpaper (60 grit and 120 grit)
  • pencil


Step 1
Find a piece of wood.

  • If possible, use recycled fence board.
  • Purchase a piece from hardware store that is about 1 inch thick by 6 inches wide.

Paddles can be many sizes, but it is helpful to work on a smaller paddle if it’s your first time.

Step 2
Draw out the paddle shape you like with a pencil.

Step 3
Proceed to cut the shape of your paddle out with your saw. Recycle the unused pieces that are left over.

Step 4
Clamp the paddle handle to the table, being careful not to tighten too much. It is possible to split paddle in half if too much pressure is applied.

Step 5
Begin carving paddle blank into desired profile, usually thinner on the paddle itself and thicker on the handle.

Step 6
After you have the shape you like, begin to sand with 60 grit sandpaper followed by the 120 grit sandpaper. This will make the paddle smooth and ready to paint.


Step 7
Once you have finished sanding, the paddle is done and ready to decorate. If painting, acrylic paint is preferred.

Step 8
Once you have decorated the paddle, it is time to seal paddle from the elements. Polyurethane or coconut oil are both efficient sealants.

Step 9
Congratulations! You have now carved your very own mini paddle.


Artist: Patrick Calihou, Métis Carver


Be sure to post your results on social media using the hashtag #SurreyFusion and tag @surreybcevents.


About Indigenous Peoples of Canada

The history of Indigenous peoples in Canada is rich and diverse. This history stretches long into the past before the arrival of the European newcomers with diverse interactions among different peoples, flourishing trade and fierce conflict, and competition for lands and resources. The history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is essentially the very history of Canada as they have played, and continue to play important roles in its development and its future.


Indigenous people have lived in the area now known as B.C. for more than 10,000 years. They developed their own societies, cultures, territories and laws. When European explorers and settlers first came to B.C. in the mid-18th century, the province was home to thousands of Indigenous people.

Today, there are approximately 200,000 Indigenous people in British Columbia. They include First Nations, Inuit and Métis. There are 198 distinct First Nations in B.C., each with their own unique traditions and history. More than 30 different First Nation languages and close to 60 dialects are spoken in the province.


Indigenous food in particular is considered very Canadian. Métis in Canada played a particularly important role in the origin of Canada and Canadian cuisine. Foods such as bannock, moose, deer, bison, pemmican, maple taffy, and Métis stews such as barley stew are all either traditional Indigenous foods or originated in Canada with roots in Indigenous cuisines, and are eaten widely throughout the country. 


We couldn't do this without the generous support of our sponsors. If you're interested, we'd love to chat. We look forward to working with companies and organizations ready and excited to share their love for the community!


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