“Our traditional culture is our power. Young people you need to spend more time with elders to learn more about traditional skills, for example how to carve a canoe. Nowadays, our children are more with modern technology” said Billy Wilson.

Billy Wilson is a native from a tiny island of Lelepa located in the Nort west of Efate.

Asked how he get the skills of carving a canoe, he replied “I learned it from my father who used to carve canoes upon request from families on the island. It is a skill that my father got from his father, then to me, and now my son already knows how to carve a canoe. It is a family legacy, that gives me pride”

Like any other inhabitants of the island, Billy and his family have to paddle across to the mainland every time whenever they want to go the city and most of them require canoe as mean of transport.

During the Pacific Mini Games, Billy, his uncle Fred Kaltoi and one of his grandfather Lore Kalo took part on a display of carving a canoe at the Festival village.

“ we were invited to display the art of carving a canoe, with a message to send across all our young generation, wether in Vanuatu , or in the pacific region, that our tradition and culture is our identity and we need to keep it, just by passing the knowledge from father to son.

“ i carved over hundred canoes for families in the island, and i enjoy doing it.”

For Billy, traditional knowledge is a precious teaching that a native from an island can acquire freely at home because it is a special skill where you don’t need to learn in the classroom.

The canoe carving display is part of the cultural entertainment organized in the Festival village area, where it is a free access area for public and visitors, next to Korman Complex which is a ticketed area during this 12 days of Pacific Mini Games.

Story and photo by Van2017