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Indigenous students successfully launch canoe they made with all-natural materials




Canoe made under guidance of Algonquin canoe builder at Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng

By ZACHARY ROMAN

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On a sunny Friday morning, a beautiful canoe created by local Indigenous students had a successful first voyage. 

It also had many more successful trips out onto the water, as each student who wanted to got a chance to paddle in it.

On November 3, Indigenous students, their family and friends, community members, and Peel District School Board (PDSB) staff gathered at Heart Lake Conservation Park to launch a canoe the students made with all-natural materials.

The students made the canoe at the Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land-Based Learning under the tutelage of Algonquin canoe builder Chuck Commanda.

Nicole Reynolds, Coordinating Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education for the PDSB, said Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng is a place for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in Peel to receive education in their cultures and languages. 

It opened in 2022 at the site of what was once Credit View Public School in Caledon.

David Babcock, the PDSB's Coordinator of Indigenous Education, was the one who arranged for Commanda to come to Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng. He said he wanted to offer the canoe project to Indigenous students so they could take part in something traditional and learn something that might otherwise be lost.

“When Chuck was building (the canoe) with all the students, he was telling stories at the same time,” said Babcock. “So, they were getting that influx of culture and tradition and storytelling, taking part in something that maybe has been lost in their families for a long time.”

Reynolds explained Commanda spent two weeks creating the canoe and sharing knowledge with students.

“They built the entire canoe, from beginning to end, using all-natural materials, the way our ancestors used to make them,” said Reynolds. 

The wooden canoe was put together without any metal, using materials like spruce root, wood nails, spruce sap, and animal fat.

Reynolds said the project really brought students together.

“The biggest thing is it helped them reclaim some of their knowledge systems,” said Reynolds.

The project will earn the students a leadership credit that will go towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Post date: 2023-11-09 13:22:46
Post date GMT: 2023-11-09 18:22:46

Post modified date: 2023-11-09 13:22:49
Post modified date GMT: 2023-11-09 18:22:49

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