Reel Paddling Film Festival encourages local paddling adventures

Jennifer Thurbide

Those looking for a new summer hobby are being encouraged to check out the upcoming Reel Paddling Film Festival set to run from April 13-14, 2012 at the Red Lake District High School. Organizers of the two day event note that the festival will feature short movies from independent film makers promoting a variety of aspects related to paddling.

“[This festival] was brought to Red Lake a couple years ago and held at the Heritage Centre so we thought we would like to bring it back again because the Red Lake area has great water sport opportunities,” described Woodland Caribou Provincial Park Superintendent Doug Gilmore last week when promoting the upcoming event. “It is nice to bring something like this that is being shown all over North America to see the different types of adventures people have gone on and give people some ideas and confidence that ‘yeah maybe I can do that too’.” Gilmore notes over 30 films are included in the package that organizers will review when determining the final two hour presentation. Films range in topic and location some of which address white water and still water paddling and kayak fishing adventures across Ontario, Canada and the United States. The festival is being cosponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre, Red Lake District High School and Red Lake Outfitters.

When asked why an event like this is important to the region Gilmore noted: “The area has great potential for water sports of different kinds and we are all familiar with the water sports that we have here on Red Lake that we see all the time but with Woodland Caribou Park right next door, with the Whitefeather protected areas to the north of us – these are regulated protected areas that are there and even outside of the regulated, protected areas there are a lot of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Sometimes it is too close for us to recognize but there are people around the world that are recognizing the importance of the area and coming to the area to partake in those activities.”

After being involved in bringing the festival to Red Lake the first time, Red Lake Outfitters owner Harlan Schwartz said his continued interest in this event has stemmed from wanting to encourage local residents to further explore the region’s wilderness and water systems that cannot be accessed with gas powered transportation.

“More people need to understand the resources that we have here locally and perhaps someone goes to this film and it will appeal to them,” said the paddling enthusiast. “We want to get more people interested in the whole camping atmosphere by getting into a canoe. You don’t always have to fill up the boat at the gas station and head out in a motorized vessel. You can get to some far off places close to town and experience some great fishing opportunities out of your canoe.”

Students at RLDHS will be the first to preview a number of the films as the Grade 11 outdoor class will be assisting with set-up. Teacher Mark Wilkins said last week from the woodshop class where students are creating paddles and supply boxes that he hopes that the films contribute to the students’ enthusiasm for their upcoming canoe trips. Wilkins confirmed as part of the new curriculum students in Grade 11 will set out this spring for a three day canoe trip that will include Onni Lake. The Grade 12 students will spend four days away in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in the Telescope Lake area. “Before [the students] head out they will learn camping skills, safety, and canoe tripping skills,” said the teacher.

For more information on the Reel Paddling Film Festival check out

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