The Power of the Canoe: Reintroducing the Art and Tradition of the Birch Bark Canoe to the Youth of the Temagami First Nation
Greetings, May the River Be With You, the Sun on your Shoulders, and the Wind at your Back!
Recently, we were invited to Bear Island, Lake Temagami, Ontario, Canada to teach the young people of the Bear Island Band of the Temagami First Nation how to build Birch Bark Canoes. We were honored by this and started planning a 3 month canoe building and teaching expedition, which will occur May 1st- August 1st, 2012.
We quickly started dreaming up a documentary about the power of the canoe and the positive influence canoes can have on native and non-native youth and their communities.
Please watch the video below to learn about the process of building a Birch Bark Canoe.
This is a video we put together with zero budget and was meant to simply document our second Birch Bark canoe building expedition. We spent two months up in the Temagami area and built a 25ft. birch bark canoe (one month gathering materials and one month building the canoe). For more info about the canoes we have built check out the CANOES section of our website.
There are currently no young birch bark canoe builders on Bear Island. We would like to help change that.
This documentary is an in house effort to reconnect the youth to the land through traditional practices. It will be a spiritual journey for the youth of Bear Island where they will learn to build these canoes with their own hands, not by working in a shop and buying lumber, but by going to the forest to find the medicine needed to build the canoes.
This video depicts what an Voyages of Rediscovery Educational Expedition is all about. It shows the effect canoeing can have on native high school students.
We want to teach the young people how to build birch bark canoes; not to hang on the wall but to paddle in, to have fun with, to travel in, to hunt with, and to use to teach the next generation how to build Birch Bark canoes.
The documentary that you are investing in, will focus on the idea that canoes can be positive forces in young peoples lives and that Birch Bark canoes can act as a healthy outlet for youth who do not have many opportunities to express them selves mentally, physically, or creatively.
The photo above (left) shows Chief Roxanne Ayotte, of the Bear Island band of the Temagami First nation, helping Bear Island kids into our Birch Bark canoe shortly after the maiden voyage. The photo on the right shows one of our educational expeditions on the Columbia River.
We will be extremely respectful about portraying the native community of Bear Island in a honorable and positive view because that is exactly how we view the community of Bear Island.
Not only are we extremely excited for and honored by this opportunity, but the community of Bear Island has also shown their excitement and support. Three members Chief Roxanne Ayotte's council have volunteered to be our contacts for the project. Their role will be in organizing the youth, managing logistics, and making sure everything runs smoothly. The Family Healing and Wellness Center has also shown much support and will play an important role in this project.
In some ways, this project is a rekindling of a tradition for the elders at Bear Island, relearning the skills to build Birch Bark canoes; the canoe is their culture, and they are passing it to the youth. It is spiritual practice and ceremonies will be conducted in honor of the cutting of trees and the launching of the canoes.
Canoe Building Program Objectives
- Film the entire project and conduct interviews with tribal community members and the young people who help build the canoes.
- Harvest enough materials to build 3 birch bark canoes.
- Build 2-3 birch bark canoes with and for the young people of the Bear Island Band of the Temagami First Nation.
- Incorporate the youth in every facet of the Birch Bark canoe building process: harvesting materials, preparing materials and building the canoe.
- Facilitate a week long material gathering canoe trip for 10-15 teenagers. On this trip we will look for all the necessary materials needed to build a birch bark canoe: Birch Bark, Spruce Root, Cedar, and Ash.
- Produce a professional feature length documentary as well as a 3 minute trailer, and a 12 minute promotional edit.
The equipment purchased with these funds will be used to promote traditional canoe building with young people of native Canadian heritage. We will also be posting clips and status updates on our Blog and Facebook page. So check them out!
We want to film this project to demonstrate to the world the power of the canoe; how canoes can help not only young people but communities as a whole. We also want to document young people building their own birch bark canoes so they can use the footage to teach the next generation how they did it. Building birch bark canoes has been documented before but there have been very few if any professional quality documentaries aimed at exposing birch bark canoes to the public and specifically young people.
What the Money will be Spent on
- Transportation to and from Bear Island, Lake Temagami, Ontario, Canada. We will be driving from Washington State in our Waste Vegetable Oil Van over 6,000 miles round trip (WVO is cheap but there are still expenses). Then taking a 2 hour barge ride with all of our equipment to Bear Island.
- Fine wood working tools
- Food for three months (we won't have a fridge so it'll be cheap: rice and beans, cans, pasta, nothing fancy)
- Some professional quality videgraphy equipment
- Post-production expenses
- Entry into film festival
We have already received two $1000 donations from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and the National Association For American Indian Children and Elders (NAAICE). These donations are dependent on this Kickstarter project being successfully funded. So become a backer now and help reintroduce Birch Bark Canoes to the young people of the Temagami First Nation and help create a documentary show casing the POWER OF THE CANOE!
Upon becoming funded we will send out a survey asking for your address, type of birch bark art you want (bear, canoe, moose, etc), if you would like to go canoeing on the Columbia, and anything else pertinent to you receiving your reward for making this project possible!
Voyages of Rediscovery bumper sticker. It is 10''x3'' and will look great on the back of your car or CANOE!
- For most pledges you will be receiving a piece of BIRCH BARK ART made by the youth of Bear Island! Below is a bear etched into the winter bark of the inside birch bark. Those who work on the canoes can also do designs on the outside (white) bark.
- CROOKED KNIFE! Above is a photo of one of our crooked knives.The crooked knife is the most used tool when building a birch bark canoe. We use it to prepare spruce root, carve/prepare the ribs and sheathing, prepare the gunwale stock, cut birch bark, really it is used for everything. The blade is made from a steel file and the handle is a hardwood. Made by John Zinser.
- CANOE TRIPS! That's right we are offering a lot of canoes trips. We can do that because we have big canoes that can hold up to 15 people per canoe. We will inform you of 5-10 dates and locations in August and September at various locations along the Columbia River. Transportation to and from the river is not included but paddles, PFD's, guides, and some delicious riverside food will be provided!
- Final Documentary DVD will be produced in September.
- PRODUCTION CREDITS Your name or organization will be honored at the beginning and end of the documentary. You will also be listed on our website.
Thank you for your support! You are now part of something bigger than a Kickstarter Project, you are helping to leave a lasting legacy; to reintroduce the art, tradition, and skills of building Birch Bark canoes to an Ojibway community who, for a long time, used the canoe as a way of life. The canoe was vital to their culture and we would like to help bring the Birch Bark canoe back into the lives of the young people of Bear Island.
New to Kickstarter?
No worries -- it's easy. Here's the official explanation from Kickstarter or we'll just let you know how it works here:
PLEDGE -- for a limited time, make a pledge to our documentary project. Take a look at the far upper right corner of this page -- that's how many days we have left to accept pledges. Click the green button that says, 'Back This Project.'
HOW MUCH? -- that's up to you. Any amount from $25 on up allows you to see the movie and become part of the experience. The more you pledge, the more rewards (t-shirts, stickers, DVD, CANOE TRIPS, etc) plus you'll be helping us make a better movie.
YOUR CARD ISN'T CHARGED -- when you pledge, your credit card isn't charged. You'll make your pledge (via the green 'Back This Project' button above) through Amazon payments; you'll be authorizing a payment for your pledge and your card isn't charged.
YOUR CARD IS CHARGED ONLY IF WE REACH OUR GOAL -- if we reach our fundraising goal by the deadline (also listed in the top right corner), then your card is charged. If we don't reach our goal by this deadline, your card is not charged and your pledge is discarded, and we can't make our documentary film.
SO PLEASE PLEDGE EARLY -- by pledging early, you'll encourage other backers, too.
What if we exceed our goal?
That'd be great! We'd be able to make a better documentary AND BUILD MORE BIRCH BARK CANOES!
Documentaries are expensive to produce; many have budgets that exceed a couple of million dollars. Our goal is the bare minimum we think it'll take to tell story of the BIRCH BARK CANOE and the power canoes can have on young people and their communities as a whole.
So, this is what you can do:
First, become a backer now. It's quick, it's easy, and everybody gets the movie. Plus, the sooner you become a backer, the sooner you'll start receiving updates. You'll also help inch our goal higher which, in turn, will encourage others to pledge, too.
Second, spread our Kickstarter link far and wide. Facebook it, e-mail it to friends, tweet it, then Facebook it again everyday. Really! This is how we find the 'crowd' in crowd-funding, through persistence and linking. Become part of the drama; regularly check on our progress and get your friends and family in on the drama, too. Know somebody in the press, or folks with lots of contacts? Get 'em the link.
Most important of all, know how much we appreciate and honor your pledge/donation/support. This project is a dream of ours and we truly value any support you can provide. If you become a backer of this project you will be creating a lasting legacy of birch bark canoes on Bear Island.
We're gonna make a great film, and we're glad to have you along for the experience
Again thank you for your support. You are helping to reintroduce birch bark canoes to the young people the Temagami First Nation.
May the sun shine on your shoulders and the wind blow on your back. We hope to see you on the River soon!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.