On August 19, we held a day-long learning and sharing event – Renewing Our Friendship: Reconciliation and the Birch Bark Canoe. The goal of the day was to learn together about how our Indigenous neighbours are moving forward, and how we can walk with them respectfully.
About 75 people gathered under a large white tent on St. Paul’s lawn overlooking the Mississippi River for a day of talks by Larry McDermott, Algonquin Ambassador and knowledge keeper, member of the Bear Clan and Executive Director of Plenty Canada; Plenty Canada intern Shaelyn Wabegijig; Chuck Commanda, Algonquin anthropologist; and others.
Chuck Commanda is the grandson of respected Kitigàn-zìbì Anishinàbeg First Nation elder William Commanda who was a spiritual leader and promoter of environmental stewardship. Chuck, a master canoe builder who built the beautiful birch bark canoes displayed on site, spoke about building canoes using oral knowledge passed down through his family. And explained how he has come to see the canoe as a powerful symbol of reconciliation in Canada.
Others joined the registered guests for a BBQ lunch including traditional foods and a closer look at the canoes. Participants went away with more mutual understanding and of our shared responsibility for tending to the earth, our home.