Students connect with roots through boat building exercises

Students at Mohawk College, Confederation College, and Jens Haven Memorial School have engaged in boat building to connect with their roots and culture. At Mohawk, master canoe-maker Chuck Commanda from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, guided Indigenous students in building a wigwas tchiiman (birch bark canoe) using his ancestors’ methods. The project received a $30K sponsorship from Breakwater Financial. At Confederation, a group of students recently built and launched a canoe, named Wildflower, that was made out of birch bark, cedar, and watap (spruce root). The students also studied the surrounding land according to western science, earning a preparatory certificate demonstrating STEM-related skills. At Jens Haven, a grade 8 class of 15 students spent the winter building a synthetic skin kayak and recently braved the rain to try it on a pond. “Most adults I know would struggle to finish one,” said Nunatsiavut’s Kayak Revival lead Noah Nochasak. “So the fact that people that are 13 follow directions and literally can tell you stories about how they made the kayak, that’s saying something.”

The Spectator | Mohawk | Confederation | CBC (Jens Haven)