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Wiigwaasi Jiimaanke – Birch Bark Canoe Build

Boozhoo Kiinaweya!

Zhowshkawabunokwe miinwaa Kyla ndizhnikaaz, Waabzheshii ndoodem, Shawanaga ndoonjeba, Anishinabekwe ndaaw.

Greetings everyone!

My Anishinabe name translates to Blue Dawn, my given name is Kyla. I am a member of the Marten clan, Shawanaga is my home, and I am an Anishinabekwe.

For four weeks this summer, the Shawanaga First Nation Healing Centre hosted a Wiigwaasi Jiimaanke – a birch bark canoe build. We harvested and gathered for the first two weeks in July and built the Jiimaan, canoe, in the last two weeks of August. Everything used to build the Jiimaan, comes from the land. We used spruce roots to sew the birch together, cedar for the gunwales, spruce pitch to patch the holes from sewing, iron wood for mallets to split the cedar – and of course, white birch for the Jiimaan itself! The days were long and well spent, a lot of patience, gratitude and love has been shared with the Jiimaan.

This picture shows an old Anishinabeg method of transporting our harvest out of the bush. It is a basswood rope, woven and braided to tie around the rolled birch (which is rolled with ferns inside to help keep the wiigwaas from drying out), then the strap is placed around the front of the forehead of the person carrying the wiigwaas. This method lessens the stress on your back, as the materials sit comfortably in your lower back. This also makes it easier to carry materials for a longer distance!

On Friday August 30th, we celebrated the birth of the Jiimaan on Mnidoo Gamii, Georgian Bay! Gchimiigwetch, thank you very much, to the Great Lakes Canoe Journey Program – Sylvia Plain, as well as Kevin Finney and Laban Smith for sharing the love of Anishinabeg technology, resiliency, and relationship building. Gchimiigwetch to the Shawanaga First Nation Healing Centre for sharing the opportunity!

More pictures and information can be found online.

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