John Barsby Secondary School aboriginal education team members Va White, left, Vivian Aarset and Donna Flett check out the selection of aboriginal education books in a canoe converted into a bookcase that now honours Métis heritage in the school’s library. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Old canoe bows to new purpose

Canoe cut in half to create bookcase honouring the Métis and their voyageur history

An old canoe’s days on the water are history, but the craft now pays homage to Canada’s Métis and their voyageur history as library bookshelves.

On Thursday, staff at John Barsby and Cedar secondary schools held two dedication ceremonies, one for the bow and another for the stern of an old canoe that was cut in half to become bookshelves in the schools’ libraries.

Aboriginal education teacher Donna Flett got the project going after the idea for using a canoe to honour Métis heritage came up during one of Barsby’s aboriginal education team meetings in 2016. Flett advertised on Craigslist for a canoe that was no longer seaworthy, but would still make a good bookcase.

A canoe was purchased and handed over to the Cedar Secondary School’s woodworking teacher and senior students, who cut the craft in two and converted them into bookcases that even used the craft’s original seats as shelves.

The bookcases now hold aboriginal education books that wouldn’t fit in a bookcase created by First Nation artist Noel Brown in 2016.

Cedar secondary is using its half of the canoe to highlight certain of its library books in rotation. Barsby’s aboriginal education department has purchased and donated a large number of books, about $4,000 worth, for its library.

A third bookcase honouring Inuit peoples is being planned to provide shelving for the books that won’t fit in the canoe.

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