The Jiimaan Project
A project to educate and inspire
The celebration of indigenous canoe making traditions has become a potent symbol of cultural survival in the modern age. More than offering simply a means to get around, indigenous canoe making practices are a celebration of a complex and ancient relationship with familiar landscapes and waterways: an environment that is sometimes taken for granted. These rich connections can offer lessons for all Canadians in this modern age.
From September 18 to October 2, 2017, Chuck Commanda worked in the Museum's "Preserving Skills Gallery" to construct a traditional Kitigan Ziibi-style birch bark canoe. The project was open for the public to view, and Chuck spend the two weeks demonstrating traditions and techniques. Many youth were able to learn from the project by attending educational sessions over Skype or in person.
This project has also left a legacy for The Canadian Canoe Museum. As stewards of the largest collection of canoes and paddled watercraft in the world embarking upon a major redevelopment project, exposure to Mr. Commanda’s deep knowledge continues to enhance the museum's interpretation, programs and activities.
Meet the Builder
Chuck Commanda (right) is the grandson of the late Algonquin elders William and Mary Commanda. The former is one of two canoe builders emeritus honoured by the Canadian Canoe Museum and also an Officer of Order of Canada. As a child, young Chuck helped his grandparents work on several canoes currently displayed at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Today, he is also one of the few practicing First Nations birch bark canoe makers.
View the process!
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The Jiimaan Project in the news
The Peterborough Examiner - Birchbark canoe builder at work at Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough
KawarthaNOW - Jiimaan: A Canoe for this Land
Peterborough This Week - Community-built birch bark canoe launched at Peterborough Lift Lock canal