Steve Cayard - Birchbark Canoe Builder

Maliseet First Nation, St. Mary's, Fredericton, NB, Canada,


About the workshop

Wayne Brooks of St. Mary's First Nation, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), lent a hand with the canoe workshops at Indian Island in Maine, together with his son Cody, and with the late Leonard Atwin of Oromocto First Nation. Wayne was determined that we should build a birchbark canoe in his home community as well, and in 2004, with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, we did. A group of about 12 Wolastoqiyik and friends built an 18-foot canoe on the Wolastoqiyik Nawicowok Sacred Lands Trust, an educational organization founded by Wayne and his family.
Then in 2009 the Canada Council for the Arts funded another birchbark canoe project at St. Mary's, this time to build a full-scale reproduction of a 21-foot Maliseet canoe that was shipped to Ireland in 1825, then found and returned to Canada for repairs in 2007. This old freight canoe, the oldest documented Maliseet canoe in existence, was eventually repatriated to the Maliseet people, who call it the Grandfather Canoe. The reproduction canoe we built was called the Grandmother Canoe.
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