By Joan Panizza, MNO Community Wellness Coordinator, Thunder Bay MNO Office

Contructiong Traditional Metis BasketsMétis crafters Kasie and Tamara collect and clean spruce roots to be used in

On June 6th a group of Métis crafters visited Centennial Park in Thunder Bay. The city was very accommodating in allowing our group to go to the park and collect birch bark from fallen trees. Spruce roots were also collected and cleaned, then split and soaked prior to being used as cording to sew the birch bark baskets together.

The weather was ideal and the bugs were few. Within an hour we had more than enough bark to complete a couple of baskets each. It was superb to sit outside and clean and prepare the bark for the basket making. The warm sunshine and fresh breeze contributed to the stories and laughter. “This setting is good for all of me,” one of the women commented. We all agreed that being outside in the fresh air and making something useful with our hands is indeed “good for all of our parts”. No open fires are allowed at Centennial Park, but we were able to bring a small briquette style BBQ for a lunch of delicious “smokies”.

We started a few baskets that afternoon but talking and story-telling being what they are, we ran out of time to complete our work. Everything was brought back to the Métis Nation of Ontario Thunder Bay Métis Council office where the basket-making project will be completed.