Lots of talk of celebrating 150 years; nice to see a Barrie Advance article covering action to preserve the methods of co-operation:
First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students learn about canoe-building at Springwater Park
A group of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit secondary students from Barrie, Midland, and Beausoleil First Nation got a chance to build a traditional birch bark canoe at Springwater Provincial Park over the course of a week.
The students spent four days at the provincial park learning from local artist and Haudenosaunee carver Josy Thomas about building a birch bark canoe, a practice that is being more and more uncommon.
Zak Hajjaoui, a First Nation, Métis, and Intuit student advisor at the Simcoe County District School Board, helped organize the canoe-building project.
“We’re trying to hold on to as much culture as we can,” he said. “The more we hold onto the knowledge, the more we know who we are as a people.”
Most canoe builds like the one the students worked on take two to three weeks. They’re doing it in four days.
It’s no easy task.
“You appreciate how much work our people put in back in the day,” said Shanice Costain, a Grade 11 student from Barrie North Collegiate Institute.
Students said they enjoyed being outside, the hands-on aspect of the build, and meeting new people.
“It’s a chance for me to learn some leadership skills and it’s a chance for me to learn more about who I am,” said Justin Kennedy, a Grade 10 Georgian Bay District Secondary School student.
Thomas, the canoe builder, said the first canoe he ever built was with his grandfather when he was about 12 years old, and he has been building them ever since.
The most important thing he learned building his first canoe?
“Patience,” he said. “The whole entire canoe is just patience.”
He says making a canoe feels good and brings people together.
“I think its important for them to do it because it’s a dying trade,” he said of the students, noting that he knows of only eight other canoe builders in Canada who still make the traditional birch bark canoes. “That’s quite limited. If it’s not carried on, it’s going to disappear.”
Once completed, the plan is to use the canoe for outdoor education at the Simcoe County District School Board.