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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Youth make birch bark canoes in celebration of Indigenous History Month

by Sylene Argent

In celebration of June being Indigenous History Month, the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum hosted a birch bark canoe workshop last Friday morning for area youth to enjoy. It was also an opportunity from which they could learn.

  With school officially out for the summer, the registration list quickly filled with youth who were interested in wanting to spend a morning learning about Indigenous history and using their hands to create a miniature canoe made of birch bark.

  “It went over well. The kids did a good job,” Victoria Beaulieu said, who is the curator of the Museum.

  Maidstone Bicentennial Museum’s summer students and new Director of Indigenous Education, Matt Bombardier, did some prep work to ready the birch wood for the craft project that did more than give local youth something creative to do while on summer vacation, it introduced them to learning about Indigenous culture and history.

  Bombardier said he learned how to make birch canoes from an elder.

  “We talked about the origin stories,” he said. “The pattern of the canoe comes from ourselves. The Canoe’s birch bark is our skin,” he said, adding the boat’s ribs are representative of our own, the root lacing is like our tendons, and the thwart our sternum.  

  “There’s nothing like a birch canoe,” Bombardier said, who has spent a lot of time out on the water.

  What was great about hosting the Birch Bark Canoe workshop is that youth are still open to new ideas, he commented. They also have a curiosity to learn, if teaching begins at a young age, they see the beauty of the culture.  

  Bombardier said he loves history and his culture. Opportunities like last Friday’s workshop provides an opportunity to share what he knows with others.


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