Birch Bark Canoe

Together, let’s build a canoe!

Reimagine your relationship with Indigenous people by taking time to learn and assist in the construction of a birch-bark canoe right here on campus. From January 24 to March 23, you and others can experience the sharing of teachings and stories with Marcel Labelle, a proud Métis and Algonquin person who has conducted canoe-building projects across academic institutions in Ontario.

By taking part in this reconciliation project, you get the chance to connect with Indigenous knowledge and the preservation and articulation of Indigenous ways of knowing. Interested? All students and University of Ottawa community members, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are welcome to come, take a look and even help with the building project. This event is also open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and groups. Please check out the schedule below for more information.

This unique cultural and learning experience will be taking place in the couch lounge of the University Centre (next to Portraits Now).

 

 

Marcel Labelle: sharing the knowledge

Marcel Labelle is a proud Algonquin and Metis husband, father and grandfather. He grew up in Mattawa, a small town in Northern Ontario and spent most of his childhood on the trapline. This is where he learned how to live with and from the forest.

Marcel shares Anishinabae knowledge through birch bark canoe building. He is recognized as a senior artist by the Ontario Arts Council since 2008 and has received OAC Aboriginal Arts Projects Grants every year since. Today, he is an Aboriginal Awareness speaker, an author, and offers special canoe building projects at Universities, Colleges and English and French School Boards in Northern and Southern Ontario. His work has received International recognition. Marcel teaches canoe building at Laurentian University’s School of Architecture in Sudbury.

He and his wife Joanne have recently moved back home to live in a log cabin they built themselves which they plan to share for many years to come.

Source: www.birchbarkcanoes.ca

Schedule

This canoe-building project will take approximately nine weeks to complete. Please contact Élise Detellier to book a session for your group at 613-562-5800 extension 2289 or by email at canoe@uOttawa.ca.

Legend

N. A.: Group sessions are not available. Drop ins are welcomed.

Week 1: January 23 to 27

This two-month project will start on Tuesday with an opening ceremony and presentation by Marcel Labelle as he starts working on the canoe. The very first steps will be to unroll and choose the bark. From Wednesday to Friday, one of the things that we will be doing is splitting the roots.

Week 1
  Tuesday
January 24
Wednesday
January 25
Thursday
January 26
Friday
January 27
9:30 a.m. N. A.   Booked  
10 a.m. N. A.   Booked Booked
10:30 a.m. N. A.   Booked Booked
11 a.m. N. A.     Booked
11:30 a.m.        
1:30 p.m.        
2 p.m.        
2:30 p.m.       N. A.
3 p.m.       N. A.
3:30 p.m.       N. A.
4 p.m.       N. A.

 

Week 2: January 30 to February 3

This week will mostly be dedicated to cedar splitting.

Week 2
  Monday
January 30
Tuesday
January 31
Wednesday
February 1
Thursday
February 2
Friday
February 3
9:30 a.m. N. A. N. A.      
10 a.m. N. A. Booked      
10:30 a.m. Booked Booked      
11 a.m. Booked Booked      
11:30 a.m. N. A. N. A.      
1:30 p.m. Booked N. A.      
2 p.m. Booked N. A.      
2:30 p.m. N. A. N. A.      
3 p.m. N. A. Booked      
3:30 p.m. N. A. Booked      
4 p.m. N. A. N. A.      

 

Week 3: February 6 to 10

This week, one of the things we will be doing is tying the roots to the gunnels.

Week 3
  Monday
February 6
Tuesday
February 7
Wednesday
February 8
Thursday
February 9
Friday
February 10
9 a.m.       N. A.  
9:30 a.m.       N. A. Booked
10 a.m.       N. A. Booked
10:30 a.m.       Booked  
11 a.m.       Booked  
11:30 a.m.       N. A.  
1:30 p.m.       N. A.  
2 p.m.       N. A.  
2:30 p.m.       Booked  
3 p.m.       Booked  
3:30 p.m.       Booked  
4 p.m.       N. A.  

 

Week 4: February 13 to 17

This week will mostly be dedicated to tying the cedar roots to the canoe gunnels.

Week 4
  Monday
February 13
Tuesday
February 14
Wednesday
February 15
Thursday
February 16
Friday
February 17
9 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked    
9:30 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked Booked  
10 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked Booked Booked
10:30 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked Booked Booked
11 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked   Booked
11:30 a.m. N. A.        
1:30 p.m. N. A.        
2 p.m. N. A.        
2:30 p.m. N. A.        
3 p.m. N. A.        
3:30 p.m. N. A.        
4 p.m. N. A.        

 

Week 5: February 20 to 24

No activities will take place this week.

Week 6: February 27 to March 3

This week, one of the things we will be doing is tying in permanent thwarts and end pieces into the canoe to complete the shape.

Week 6
  Monday
February 27
Tuesday
February 28
Wednesday
March 1
Thursday
March 2
Friday
March 3
9 a.m. N. A. N. A. Booked   N. A.
9:30 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked Booked N. A.
10 a.m. N. A. Booked N. A. Booked Booked
10:30 a.m. N. A. Booked N. A. Booked Booked
11 a.m. Booked N. A. N. A.   Booked
11:30 a.m. Booked N. A. N. A.   N. A.
1:30 p.m. N. A. N. A. Booked   N. A.
2 p.m. Booked N. A. Booked   N. A.
2:30 p.m. Booked Booked Booked   N. A.
3 p.m. Booked Booked N. A.   Booked
3:30 p.m. N. A. Booked N. A.   Booked
4 p.m. N. A. N. A. N. A.   N. A.

 

Week 7: March 6 to 10

This week will mostly be dedicated to bending the cedar ribs to fit inside the canoe shape to support the canoe on its travels.

Week 7
  Monday
March 6
Tuesday
March 7
Wednesday
March 8
Thursday
March 9
Friday
March 10
9 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked N. A. N. A.
9:30 a.m. Booked Booked Booked Booked FNMI Education Day
10 a.m. Booked Booked Booked Booked FNMI Education Day
10:30 a.m. Booked N. A. N. A. Booked FNMI Education Day
11 a.m. N. A. Booked N. A. Booked FNMI Education Day
11:30 a.m. N. A. Booked N. A. Booked FNMI Education Day
1:30 p.m. Booked N. A. N. A. N. A. FNMI Education Day
2 p.m. Booked N. A. N. A. N. A. FNMI Education Day
2:30 p.m. Booked N. A. N. A. N. A. FNMI Education Day
3 p.m. N. A. N. A. Booked N. A. FNMI Education Day
3:30 p.m. N. A. N. A. Booked N. A. FNMI Education Day
4 p.m. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A.

 

Week 8: March 13 to 17

This week, one of the things we will be doing is inserting the cedar ribs and sheeting the inside of the canoe.

Week 8
  Monday
March 13
Tuesday
March 14
Wednesday
March 15
Thursday
March 16
Friday
March 17
9 a.m. N. A.   Booked   N. A.
9:30 a.m. FNMI Education Day   Booked   N. A.
10 a.m. FNMI Education Day Booked Booked Booked N. A.
10:30 a.m. FNMI Education Day Booked Booked Booked N. A.
11 a.m. FNMI Education Day   Booked Booked Booked
11:30 a.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A. Booked Booked
1:30 p.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A.   N. A.
2 p.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A.   N. A.
2:30 p.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A.   Booked
3 p.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A.   N. A.
3:30 p.m. FNMI Education Day   N. A.   N. A.
4 p.m. N. A.   N. A.   N. A.

 

Week 9: March 20 to 24

Monday, we will be harvesting gum on the unceded Algonquin territory so we can melt it on Tuesday. Wednesday will be dedicated to applying the gum to the canoe to hold everything in place. As the canoe is near completion, we will be putting the final touches together on Thursday morning and we will present the completed canoe in the afternoon to finish this two-month project.

Week 9
  Monday
March 20
Tuesday
March 21
Wednesday
March 22
Thursday
March 23
9 a.m. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A.
9:30 a.m. N. A. Booked N. A. N. A.
10 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked N. A.
10:30 a.m. N. A. Booked Booked N. A.
11 a.m. Booked N. A. Booked N. A.
11:30 a.m. Booked N. A. N. A. N. A.
1:30 p.m. Booked Booked Booked N. A.
2 p.m. Booked Booked Booked N. A.
2:30 p.m. Booked Booked N. A. N. A.
3 p.m. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A.
3:30 p.m. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A.
4 p.m. N. A. N. A. N. A. N. A.

 

Registration

To book a session, contact Élise Detellier at 613-562-5800 extension 2289 or by email at canoe@uOttawa.ca.

Please note that drop ins are welcomed at any time, but larger groups (under 15 persons preferred) must register in order to attend the event.

Priority will be given on a first come, first serve basis to those who register. Limit of 35 participants.

To attend the FNMI Education Days in March, please register at canoe@uOttawa.ca as soon as possible as the event is limited to 120 children per half-day session.

Interesting facts

  • It can take up to ten tree inspections before finding the right birch bark.
  • Only a knife and hands can be used to peel the bark from the tree.
  • The removed bark has to be rolled up and carried out of the bush with a taupline.
  • The removed bark then has to be rolled out on a building frame.

Source: www.birchbarkcanoes.ca

Important notice

Permission must be given before any picture-taking. Please seek consent from Marcel Labelle.

Photographs, videos and audio recordings of this event may be produced and may include your recognizable image. By participating in the event, you therefore consent to being photographed, video-taped and audio-taped and you authorize the University to use any of these recordings for its activities and events, as well as for its print and electronic promotional material, including on the Internet via the University website or other social media websites.

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