Eden Canoes

Eden Canoes Project

Eden Canoes is a project auspiced by the Eden Community Access Centre.

In November 2020, Anglicare Rural Chaplain, Reverend Michael Palmer, coordinated a community project to empower Aboriginal Youth from Eden Marine High School through a canoe building project.

The belief and support of the local Aboriginal community and collaboration with local Indigenous leaders has been a driving force for the program.

Train the trainer workshops were run in 2021, with 15 people receiving canoe building instruction. The project now has a local team of five Indigenous mentors/canoe builders to support the program’s expansion.

The ground-breaking Eden Canoes Indigenous youth program is a culturally safe place allowing participants to be themselves in the present as they respect and honour their long and enduring traditions. It is an important initiative to engender hope in participants for the future.

The program includes elements of healing; allowing young people to witness and explore their own achievements. It recognises that young people need a mix of book learning and practical, hands on experience to successfully gain skills and knowledge.

The focus is on helping people thrive through the creation of healthy community connections. This is about more than simply building a canoe. Not only do participants build boats, they also explore relationships with others and have the opportunity to use the boat and explore the local environment.

Our thanks go to the many people involved in establishing this project including Steven Hayes, Ethan McDonald, Dave Giddings, Uncle Ossie Cruse, Alison Simpson and Nathan Lygon.

Thanks also to Mica Productions for capturing the essence of this program through their inspiring Eden Canoes documentary.

To learn more about this documentary and Eden Canoes, please visit here.


The Eden Canoes program is just one way through which our youth can express their identities, build confidence and positive relationships and create a sense of place for themselves in our communities.

We know that people who are well-adjusted to community have a better sense of self-esteem, self-respect and resilience. The program plays an important role in inspiring participants, building skills, creating hope and improving quality of life.

Through the program, young people come together to connect and learn from one another. They build community and hope for the future, learning valuable skills like teamwork and active listening, along with technical boat building skills.

Throughout the process they have time and space to share in stories from culture and from the community. The outcomes of greater confidence and experience are tools participants will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Youth are our future decision makers. The are part of the very fabric of our community today and have a significant role to play in building the communities of tomorrow. The Eden Canoes program is just one way we can come together to support them.


The program began organically with an idea that grew through conversations and local community connections.

The benefits for Indigenous youth, explored at the inception of the program, are now being recognised as having potential for other youth cohorts, as well as more broadly across the community.

In 2021 workshops were conducted for two local secondary schools.

The future of the program is now being progressed via a consortium made up of representatives from local Indigenous organisations. A non-western collaboration model of operation is be explored, with an emphasis on mutual benefits, sustainability, community and respect.


The initiative has been a broad collaboration and got off the ground with grant funding through Vinnies. We have also been fortunate to have in-kind support from Campbell Page, Twofold Aboriginal Corporation, Mica Studios, Eden Marine High School and many individuals.


The Eden Canoes Project connects to the following ECAC objectives:

  • An inclusive environment encouraging participation from all groups and fostering positive relations
  • Build community social and economic capacity
  • Develop local solutions to local problems
  • Raise the aspirations of individuals and unlock the potential of community


Carina is the ECAC manager. You can email Carina at admin@eden.nsw.au or phone 0264963970

Michael is the Anglicare Rural Chaplain. You can email Michael on mknp61@gmail.com or phone 0423 774 735