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September 24, 2017 12:35 pm

Canoe Launch Steeped in Ceremony

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 @ 1:40 PM

Marcel Labelle officially launches the  canoe- video 250News

Prince George, B.C. – With ceremonial smudging,  drumming  and singing,  the birch bark canoe  built here in Prince George has been officially launched.

Under the guidance of Labelle, the canoe  is the result of work of 8 UNBC students.

Jacey Wolfe is one of the students who worked on the project “To know that our canoe actually floats and we all did it as group, it is a great feeling.”

Students on the project combined classroom teaching on Cree and Métis culture and the history of French-speaking people in Northern British Columbia with the hands-on process of building of the canoe.

From Matawa Ontario,  Labelle says he sourced the materials for the  canoe from across Canada,  harvesting roots from each province,  and  bringing  birch bark and cedar from Matawa as he wasn’t sure just what kind of natural materials would be available here.

The project  was done in partnership with UNBC,  the Cercle des Canadiens Francais and the Two Rivers Art Gallery  where the canoe was constructed.

The project  got underway in May,   was completed in time for the Canada Day Celebrations,  and launched today at Cottonwood Island Park.

Labelle says the canoe is a “messenger” canoe,  and has  named it “The Indian Act-2017”  as a means of  sparking conversation  about Indigenous peoples,  their rights,  and  in reflecting on the  past,   taking steps to make Canada better.

“This group will be carrying the message of this canoe forward,” Labelle said. “This canoe is a tool they can use to talk about the Indian Act and this beautiful craft will support them when they have those discussions.”

The canoe  has an eagle feather tucked safely in it’s  bow, “That is so it will be protected,  always” says Labelle.

 

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