Help build a birch bark canoe

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A canoe on exhibition in a room.

This birch bark canoe is on display in the University Centre Couch Lounge, the location of a nine-week canoe-building project. Photo: Julie Gareau

By Linda Scales

An unparalleled learning opportunity is available to members of the uOttawa community in the form of a 13-foot-long birch bark canoe.

A nine-week canoe-building project was launched on January 24 in the University Centre Couch Lounge. Students and employees who take part will also learn how Indigenous perspectives and traditional knowledge intersect with art, engineering and science.

Renowned canoe builder Marcel Labelle, a proud Métis and Algonquin, will guide interested volunteers — Indigenous and non-Indigenous, individuals and groups — in the art and technique of building a birch bark canoe using traditional methods. Labelle, of Mattawa, Ontario, is recognized as a senior artist by the Ontario Arts Council. He has conducted other canoe-building projects across the province and is also a gifted storyteller.

The University is hosting this project in collaboration with the Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies, the Indigenous Students Association and the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

Everyone is encouraged to participate. If you’re interested in helping to build the canoe and learning about Indigenous culture, you’re welcome to drop in. Project hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until March 24 (except during the February 20 to 24 reading week). Participation is on a first come, first served basis and is limited to 35 at a time. Groups are required to register.

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