Honouring the Memory of our Ancestors; Birch Bark Baskets

by Faith Decontie

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ABSTRACT

The cultural practice of Algonquin birch bark basket making is a continuing distinct method of connecting to their ancestors. In the Algonquin reserve of Kitigan Zibi, birch bark baskets are a way of both honouring their ancestors and passing down traditional valuable teachings of Anishnabe culture. The once practiced assimilation policies in Section 3 of An Act Further to Amend The Indian Act, 1880, to ban First Nation ceremonial practices within Canada, is one example that demonstrates unsettling historical relationships between Indigenous people and the Canadian Government. As a result of the Canadian Government assimilation policies of banning ceremonial practices, the disconnection between Indigenous people and Canadians are apparent through public spaces such as the Canadian Museum of History in the Canada Hall. The presence of Algonquin birch bark baskets in the Canada Hall would reflect a potential positive relationship between Canadians and the First People of this land.

KEY WORDS

Anishnabe Cultural Practices, Unsettling Historical Relationships, Canada Hall

BIOGRAPHY

Faith Decontie is First Nation from both Algonquin (Anishnabe) and Nakota lineage. Her mother is Anishnabe from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec and her father is Nakota from Carry the Kettle, Saskatchewan. Faith was raised in Kitigan Zibi, and grew up on the powwow trail when she first found an interest in learning about different cultures and cultural practices. She currently holds a B.A, in Anthropology and is completing her honours degree in the Direct Interdisciplinary Studies program titled Transparency; Indigenous Identity within Canadian Society.