Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture has welcomed four skilled carvers to help with the construction of a traditional canoe that’s being built at the canoe house in Susupe.
The four additional carvers who joined the project last Jan. 30 are Department of Corrections inmates and are helping grand master navigator Antonio “Tony” Urmeyang Piailug and John Castro, project coordinator of the seafaring tradition program of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, with the construction of the traditional canoe.
“You can only get so much excitement from cutting grass or painting buildings, so this is something new and exciting for them,” said Sergeant Ryan A. Kaipat of DOC.
Kaipat said these inmate workers look forward to waking up in the morning, knowing that they are able to do something that makes use of their skills.
“The inmate workers that are here are happy and excited to give back to the community and do something they’re experienced in,” Kaipat said.
He stated the inmates help for free and, if allowed, their help will be added to their community service requirements. “One of the comments that inmate workers make once we’re back at DOC is that they enjoy what they’re doing and they’re always asking if there’s other projects,” Kaipat said. “They always say how they’re trying so hard to not get in trouble and to make themselves better so they could do better and fix their mistakes.”
Since last Feb. 3, two more individuals have volunteered to help Castro and Piailug in building the traditional canoe, which is meant to teach the CNMI community about the importance of the traditional canoe; to show the world how traditional navigators learned how to navigate using just stars; and to teach the youth about traditional seafaring, which is the practice of travelling by sea. It will also be showcased at the Festival of Arts 2020.