SSTIKS depends on volunteers to keep ticket prices low and to keep the event running every year. Volunteering is fun and you’ll be contributing to a great gathering. Please consider volunteering for SSTIKS! Contact us at SSTIKS2024@gmail.com

Volunteer for SSTIKS!
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SSTIKS History

The impetus for SSTIKS came out of discussions starting in 2001 among local kayakers who had a love for Greenland paddles, skin-on-frame boats, and the traditional Inuit paddling arts. At the time, there were very few folks in the Pacific Northwest who followed this discipline and even fewer resources for learning; videos were few and far between and no Greenland paddle mentors visited us in this region.

Wouldn’t it be great, they asked,  if there was a weekend wherein those who loved this kind of paddling could gather to share skills and learning?  To have fun on the water in our peculiar craft?

So SSTIKS was born.  The first event was held in June of 2002.  It attracted about 75 attendees. As the event was dedicated to the open sharing of knowledge, the ethos that would later be defined as SSTIKSishness was laid down: a non-commercial, non-profit, familial, community-based event for sharing knowledge and having fun.

Many of the STSIKs traditions were established early – paddle carving classes, the salmon barbecue, the shared meals and more.  In 2005, the first SSTIKS kids track was held.  This proved immediately popular and has served to help define pour event -the only kayaking event that welcomes kids as part of the process.  SSTIKS was truly a family event.

SSTIKS continues to thrive, each year introducing new ideas whilst preserving the core of SSTIKIShness laid down in 2002.For a complete history, see Tim Mattson’s The History of SSTIKS

SSTIKS Traditions

Wedding of Palo Kayak Relay Race
Taken from Knud Rasmussen’s film of the same name, this race recreates the final scene where Palo rescues his stolen bride and escapes from their pursuers in an epic kayak chase across stormy seas.

The race has four legs: the forward sprint, the backward sprint, the seal tow, and the escape with the bride. The forward and backward sprint are pretty self-explanatory. The seal tow consists of a “seal,” usually a kid, who hangs on the back of the kayak imitating the dead seal brought to the bride’s house. The last leg, the bride carry, sees a bride, hopefully the lightest member of the team, carried sitting back to back behind the paddler/groom

The race is always dramatic with teams of adults and kids competing in a chaotic but fun scrum.

Traditional Greenland Kayak Skills
Rope Gymnastics
Allunaariaqattaarneq, “games performed using harpoon line” (rope gymnastics), are known throughout the arctic. The rope gymnastics performed at the Greenland championship are a mix of techniques from both East and West Greenland. Rope gymnastics is an ancient Inuit form of sport, which demands and develops balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, and pain tolerance.

Originally done with harpoon line stretched between two supports, the exercises toughen the hands which may allow you to paddle long hours without developing blisters. Many of the maneuvers are extremely strenuous and painful. Performing them helps to build mental and physical toughness, qualities that were very useful for the hard life of a kayak hunter. Read more at Qajaq USA
Read more at Qajaq USA

Nothing frees you to develop as a kayaker like acquiring a roll. Learning to roll is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle – it feels impossible then, all of a sudden, it isn’t. It’s a great feeling to get to the point!
Most of us have a roll or two under our belts which allow us to recover without a wet-exit. For the Inuit and other arctic peoples who developed kayak rolling, it was matter of life or death. If you came out of your boat in frigid waters you were as good as dead. Moreover, kayak hunters were often encumbered by ropes, harpoon lines, and precious tools, which could not be easily discarded.

The Inuit developed rolls to take care of every eventuality -rolling while tipped over backward, rolling holding a tool, rolling with one hand, rolling with no hands, and many more. SSTIKS is an excellent venue to learn your first roll or develop new rolls.
Learn more about rolling on Christopher Crowhurst’s awesome qajaq rolling blog.



SSTIKS Kid Program
The “Kids Track” is a safe, fully-supervised, educational, and fun portion of SSTIKS. Kids learn kayaking skills by playing games on and off of the water and getting soaking wet.

We seriously love kids and will do our best to include everyone who can participate safely. We believe that playing and learning with a diverse group of kids is as important as mastering kayak skills.

We take safety very seriously. Lifejackets are required at all times on the water, appropriate footwear is required (lots of sharp shells on the beach), and all youth activities are closely supervised.

Here is  Stephanie Doornink, one of the Kids Program leaders:
The Kids Program at SSTIKS is a fun and engaging way for kids to actively learn kayak skills while having a fabulous time!
We have a balance of instruction activities along with games that help the kids develop skills to be a proficient kayaker.
Some of these activities include games teaching strokes, maneuvering, rescues, and rolling. Other games and activities include “Tail Tag” where kids practice maneuvering while trying to grab tags off the bows and sterns of other kid’s kayaks, “Preposterous Propulsion” which is a relay race where kids use strange objects to propel their boats while racing against an opposing team, and “Boat Building”, which is my favorite. In boat building teams of kids are provided construction materials, each team designs and constructs a boat, then they race it. 
Kids Program includes all age of kids and levels of kayaking experience. We take kids and help them learn and have fun. The Kids Program provides kids with a great way to be active, have fun with friends, and learn all about the fun of kayaking!

The SSTIKS Auction


Each year SSTIKS hold both a silent and live auction.  This event features cool items donated by supports near and far.  The proceeds from the auction help defray the cost of SSTIKS and keep our event entrance price low.

Our generous supporters (check out the “supporters” section of the website) donated many other items and services for SSTIKS. Thank you one and all!

The auction typically features kayak and SUP rentals for various locations in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, paddler-friendly clothing and gear, Greenland-style specific books and instructional videos, navigation aids, and lots more irresistible stuff. There are items to fit every budget.


We are always looking for auction items.  Let us know if you have something to donate at SSTIKS.  New items and services are welcome!