Northern Lights Qajaq Society

 This Year’s Mentors

In addition to our usual crew of local mentors, we’re pleased to welcome Maligiaq Padilla, Dubside, Chuck Smith and Henry Davies to the 2017 Traditional Gathering.


Originally from Sisimiut, Greenland, Maligiaq was raised by his grandparents in Killiit, a small island off the west coast of Greenland. Raised a hunter, Maligiaq built his first qajaq at 12, and continues to do so, many of his 300+ builds are in National and International Museums.  At 16, Maligiaq became the youngest winner of the Greenland National Qajaq Championship, and has won a total of 9 titles.

Passionate about sharing the Greenlandic culture through teaching rolling, paddling, building qajaq and ropes gymnastics, Maligiaq teaches world wide, and is featured in many instructional videos such as “This is the Sea” and Allunaariaqattaarneq (a Rope Gynmastic Instructional Film).  Maligiaq lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife and two children.

Maligiaq will be leading a paddling trip in Aasiaat, Greenland, in July. Several of this years TPG participants and mentors are joining this adventure, which includes a week of paddling, and attending or participating in the Greenland National Qajaq Championship, 2017.


An internationally known authority on Greenland rolling techniques and Greenland rope gymnastics, Dubside is easily recognizable at any event by his completely black attire and distinctive beard. He spends a portion of each year in Greenland interfacing with Greenlanders and learning more about their culture and their kayaking skills, and no doubt teaching a bit also. The remainder of his time he spends traveling throughout North and South America, Europe and Japan giving presentations, demonstrations and instruction for symposia, clubs and outfitters. Dubside is also the creator of the website. Dubside will be paddling in Greenland with Maligiaq and the groups this summer.

Chuck Smith:

Founder and owner of Aluu Paddles, in Allen Park, Michigan, Chuck will host an all day Greenland Paddle making class planned for Thursday.  You’ll start with a custom blank, and spend the day happily planing and sanding away, taking home your own paddle. We will confirm details soon, and pre-registration and additional payment will be required


Henry Davies is an ACA Level 4 coastal kayak instructor with Traditional Skills Endorsement and a kayak guide in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. He likes to teach rolling, strokes and maneuvers with the Greenland paddle, and encourages the development of those skills for use in real life conditions. Henry has attended the Qajaq USA Michigan Training Camp since 2004, and has been a mentor there for an unknown number of those years.

Local Mentors

Among our crew of local mentors are:

Pete Kuhn, an ACA Level Four coastal kayak instructor and guide who is well-known for coaching mid-west paddlers on rolling techniques. Pete is also renowned for his ability to foam out kayaks to make them fit the paddler, an essential technique for people learning to roll. Pete is also as comfortable teaching rolling as he is teaching strokes and maneuvers, he runs several classes dedicated to traditional strokes, paying particular attention to paddle extension.

Renee DuFresne is a director of the board of Qajaq USA, and the events committee chair.  Renee loves playing Inuit Games, both on and off the water. Whether it is the artistry of the forward stroke, or the beauty of a well executed roll, passing on, preserving and sharing the traditional paddling and culture are her passion. Not just passionate about Greenland paddling, Renee is an ACA Level 3 Instructor, with both Traditional Skills and Rolling Endorsements. She also holds a BCU3*.  Renee will also be part of the paddling group in Greenland this summer.

Sipke Deboer, originally hails from Friesland, but has lived in the US since a young boy. He’s passionate about long distance, endurance activities and has completed over thirty American Birkebeiner ski races. He’s kayaked the entire length of the Missouri river, and is currently midway thru section hiking the Appalachian Trail. When he’s at home in Minnesota, he builds skin-on-frame Qajaq, harpoons, and Aleutian and Greenland paddles. Fully outfitted with Inuit hunting gear, Sipke is an accomplished harpoon thrower and can not wait to test himself at the Greenland National Qajaq Championship this summer.

Becky Stadem joins us for a second year, and this time she also represents the Gathering on the Qajaq USA Events committee.  Becky is a skilled roller who has been helping people in northern Minnesota advance their skills for many years. Becky currently holds the record for highest scoring female for judged rolling in Minnesota.

Cindy Petersen, our resident house mum, Cindy is sure to make sure that you have what you need, or know where to get it. Find her quiet guidance toward what ever you need at camp. Did we mention that she’s also a stellar mentor? If you find her in the water, be sure to find a chance to work through your roll.

Tim Manning, kayak builder, paddle carver and now mentor has been a regular at the Gathering for many years. Tims enthusiasm for kayaking as infectious. Tim is an ACA L2 instructor.

Peter Strand is an excellent local mentor and our resident photographer.  Hailing from Wisconsin, Peter teaches at many local events, and will be part of the crew at the in Greenland National Championship, 2017.