Chuck Commanda & Dr. Larry McDermott
This teaching will focus on surrounding the building of an Algonquin-style birch bark canoe. These teachings are connected with the revitalization of Indigenous practices and communities as well as reconciliation; and link to family and community, legal traditions, and relationships with the land.
A full-size canoe will be brought in, and all participants will sit in a circle around the canoe for the teachings and a question and answer session.
Sponsored by Niagara College Indigenous Education.
A master birchbark canoe builder from the community of Kitigan Zibi, Chuck has been building canoes since he was a child, under the guidance of his highly respected grandparents, Mary and William Commanda. He has spent the past ten years making canoes in the traditional Algonquin style as well as teaching canoe building, birch bark basket-making and snowshoe-making workshops to Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, and adults. Mr Commanda’s work not only produces beautiful pieces of art of incredible cultural, functional and artistic value; but also embodies the use of cultural practices to transmit Indigenous knowledge among peoples and between generations in the spirit of reconciliation and Indigenous community revitalisation.
Larry McDermott (Algonquin), a senior advisor to Friends of Laura Secord, is executive director of Plenty Canada, an Aboriginal non-government organization devoted to the protection of Mother Earth, building healthy communities, and promoting cross-cultural awareness of the value of Indigenous ways of knowing to achieve a sustainable environment for future generations. A former three-time mayor and council member of Lanark Highlands, chair of the Rural Forum of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Larry is a member of numerous organizations including the International Indigenous Forum for Biodiversity, the Ontario Species at Risk Public Advisory Committee, the Canadian Environmental Network, UNESCO, and the Ontario Recovery Strategy for the American Eel. Larry also has served as a comprehensive claim representative for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, is a certified tree marker and butternut assessor, and holds other environmental certifications. He lives in a 170-year-old log home on 500 acres of biologically diverse Algonquin land along the Mississippi River.