Canoe Launch Steeped in Ceremony
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.