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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through June 27, 2013 * ANISHINAABE BABAMADIZWIN: JOURNEY BY CANOE < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 46
Registered: 11-2009

Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 11:42 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks to those of you who have so kindly voted for the Aviva Community Fund idea, Anishinaabe Babamadizwin: A Journey By Canoe, Miigwech for your support….and to any who may wish to add their votes. Chi Miigwech!!!!


"First, the canoe connects us to Ma-ka-ina, Mother Earth, from which we came and to which we must all return. Councils of those who were here before us revered the earth and also the wind, the rain, and the sun – all essential to life. It was from that remarkable blending of forces that mankind was allowed to create the canoe and its several kindred forms.

From the birch tree, came the bark; from the spruce, pliant roots; from the cedar, the ribs, planking and gunwales; and from a variety of natural sources, the sealing pitch.

In other habitats, great trees became dugout canoes while, in treeless areas, skin, bone and sinew were ingeniously fused into kayaks. Form followed function, and manufacture was linked to available materials. Even the modern canoe, although several steps away from the first, is still a product of the earth. We have a great debt to those who experienced the land before us. No wonder that, in many parts of the world, the people thank the land for allowing its spirit to be transferred to the canoe.

Hand-propelled watercraft still allow us to pursue the elemental quest for tranquility, beauty, peace, freedom and cleaness. It is good to be conveyed quietly, gracefully, to natural rhythms….The canoe especially connects us to rivers – timeless pathways of the wilderness. Wave after wave of users have passed by. Gentle rains falling onto a paddler evaporate skyward to form clouds and then to descend on a fellow traveller, perhaps in another era. Like wise, our waterways contain something of the substance of our ancestors. The canoe connects us to the spirit of these people who walk beside us as we glide silently along riverine trails." – Kirk Wipper, in foreword to Canexus (also published as“Connections” in Stories From The Bow Seat: The Wisdom And Waggery Of Canoe Tripping by Don Standfield and Liz Lundell, p. 15)

The canoe of the Aboriginal Peoples is perhaps the ultimate expression of elegance and function in the world of watercraft. All its parts come from nature, and when it is retired, it returns to nature. Except for the tribes of the Plains, the canoe was vital to all Aboriginal cultures of Canada, each tribe being defined by the distinct shape of its canoe or kayak. It was not only the principal means of transportation, but was also critical to almost every facet of life; canoe and kayak builders were revered in their societies.

The Ojibway or Anishinaabe people were canoe people. Taking a canoe trip certainly gets one back to basics….and in the case of Anishinaabe even back to one’s traditions. This is very true with the young people.

One such example, undertaken over the last few years, is an outdoor adventure leadership experience (OALE) for youth (ages 12 to 18) from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, involving ten-day canoe trips. The main goal of the OALE program is to promote resilience and well-being.

Aboriginal youth are facing a number of considerable social, economic, and educational challenges. According to statistics outlined by the United Nation’s Human Development Index, the living conditions and quality of life Canadian First Nations is similar to that of many developing countries. A lack of education means that approximately 70% of First Nations’ students living on reserve will never complete high school, while unemployment rates are two-times that of the non-Aboriginal population. Health challenges which include obesity, diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS mean that First Nations Peoples face a shorter life span than other Canadians, while suicide is now one of the leading causes of death among Aboriginal peoples between ages 10 and 24.

The Aboriginal population represents the fastest growing youth population in the country. Aboriginal youth under the age of 25 represent more than half of the total Aboriginal population in the country. While there is limited data available for many Aboriginal communities, a number of interesting reports and research initiatives have been published that outline continuing struggles faced by Aboriginal youth as well as recognizable cultural strengths and policy recommendations to support the growing population.

The proposed project aims to limit the challenges and build on the strengths of Aboriginal youth and their communities, while supporting the value of culture and identity. A key component of this project will the promotion of youth participation in leadership activities, volunteer work and relationship building with other members of the community. Further the project will also engage the youth and their communities in part of the design, development, and implementation of the program….from the canoe route selected and the equipment used….to how their community is properly represented along the canoe trip route (such as flags used….even artwork on canoes or paddles). This last part allows for increased community pride and ownership, both of which are key to a sustainable program.

The project deals directly with youth….many at risk….or in danger of becoming at risk. It could provide an alternative based on Anishinaabe culture and traditions. It involves a journey by canoe….a very traditional basis of transportation….but far more than just a canoe trip. It will develop leadership.

When one thinks of leadership, one can be reminded of watching a V-formation of geese in flight. The lead goose is sticking its neck out to break the air currents for the rest of the flock, thereby making it easier for the others to fly (as they “draft” in behind). But if you watch that V-formation long enough, you’ll see that the lead goose will eventually fall back and another one will come up to take its place. So a good leader will stick its neck out for whover is following, setting a good example for the others; but also a good leader knows when to let another lead, when to let others have a chance. Obviously there is also the need to be a team player, and in working with others. All of which can be accomplished on such a canoe trip.

The Anishinaabe Babamadizwin: A Journey By Canoe would be a First Nations canoe project for Anishinaabe youth….using the canoe as a means to help these young people on their life’s journey. Such canoe trips could develop leadership skills as well as increase awareness of their Native culture and traditions. The youth participants return to their communities as Future Leaders. As example the youth could educate and motivate their family and friends about various environmental issues and possible solutions. Thus by engaging these Native youth on such trips awareness is brought to Mother Earth….the environment….water….the Great Lakes….wilderness….even to First Nations rights.

A number of canoe trips would be undertaken from various Anishinaabe (Ojibway) communities around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, plus those along Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie, as well as from inland such as Temagami, North Bay, Lake Simcoe or even the Kawarthas….all ending up togetherat Manitoulin Island. Such trips are thus centered around one of the Great Lakes….the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe people. These communities would be invited by a yet to be determined host community.

Such trips could involve bark canoes….and wood canvas canoes….built by First Nations youth….for the trips. This past summer bark canoes were built in Ottawa by Native youth….on Bear Island in Temagami ….and in Oshawa.

As life starts by going through the Eastern Doorway….so would a canoe trip beginning in the East….maybe from the Peterborough area (maybe a possible tie in with the National Canoe Day celebration there in late June….certainly involving the Canadian Canoe Museum)….maybe including the bark canoe built in Ottawa through Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.....maybe wood canvas canoes.

Or involving the Metis bark canoe from Oshawa, see

From the Temagami area could come bark canoes built at Bear Island by Temagami First Nation youth during the workshop conducted by Voyages of Rediscovery (see

This could be a canoe equivalent of the Water Walk conducted by the Anishnaabe women….see

Hopefully such a series of trips would involve the Canadian Canoe Museum, the Canadian Canoe Foundation, the Anishnabek Nation, Union Of Ontario Indians, Chiefs of Ontario. the Federation of Ontario Friendship Centres, as well as the various First Nations….and even the Ontario Arts Council. It may be possible for 4 wood canvas canoes, built specifically for this project by the youth, to be painted by various Native artists….and after the trip ends each of these canoes could be raffled off to further fund canoe projects in First Nation communities.

Thus there would be canoe trips from various Anishinaabe (Ojibway) communities around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, plus those near Sault Ste. Marie, as well as from inland such as Temagami, North Bay, Lake Simcoe or even the Kawarthas….ending at Manitoulin Island. Such trips are thus centered around one of the Great Lakes….the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe people.

The final destination of all of these trips could be Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, in time for the annual Wikwemikong pow wow on the August long weekend (as of yet Wikwemikong has not been approached to host such an event….but it is hoped that the community will be interested in doing so).

The journey taken by canoe will bring the Anisninaabe youth back to their roots through traditional canoe routes….but also help guide them on their own life’s journey.

(Message edited by WoodNCanvas on October 7, 2012)
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Post Number: 47
Registered: 11-2009

Posted on Monday, October 22, 2012 - 5:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

The Second Round of the Aviva Community Fund has begun as of 12 NOON Monday Oct. 22nd. Please vote for this Aviva Community Fund idea, Anishinaabe Babamadizwin: A Journey By Canoe, Miigwech for your support….

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