“When we do a walking out ceremony, the parents help make the outfits and participate in the hunting and cooking. An elder walks the child out of the tepee. It’s the same for the snowshoe ceremony.
The elder usually sits with young children and talks to them about their snowshoes. He or she teaches them the purpose of all the tools used for the ceremony, tells them how to wear snowshoes and what to do with them, and so on.” Irene Otter, Eeyou (Cree)
Tim Whiskeychan, Eeyou (Cree)
“Keeping the customs we learned in our youth alive and passing them on to the younger generation is important. Working with skins and babiche and making snowshoes, babiche chair seats, and drums are traditional activities that have almost died out. I think there are only about eight people in Quebec who make babiche chair seats.”
Jean-Paul Lamirande O’Bomsawin, Waban-Aki (Abenaki)
1-4. Jean-Paul Lamirande O’Bomsawin, Waban-Aki (Abenaki)
Bernard Connolly and Michel Biroté have been making snowshoes since childhood. They participated in the Design and Material Culture group’s design workshops (La Boîte Rouge vif), organized to showcase artisans and their know-how in order to preserve and transmit traditional knowledge through innovative creations.
The workshops encourage young people to learn about their elders’ skills and realize how they can be applied to their own creations. Participants’ children who attended some of the activities during the project show a new interest in traditional culture.
1-6. Nicto – Basket
Michel Biroté, Atikamek Nehirowisiw
Ash, pine, birch, wood fibers, leather, beads
Photographs : Renata Marques-Leitao
ARUC Design et culture matérielle (La Boîte Rouge vif) archives, 2012
7-9. Side table
Bernard Connolly, Ilnu
Photograph : Jean-François Vachon
La Boîte Rouge vif archives, 2006
Her grandparents were the last people in their village to make traditional snowshoes. The artist applies her recently acquired knowledge of how to lace snowshoes to a work inspired by this ancestral craft. The large scale work, which defies stereotypes, speaks to a ‘’métissage’’ of cultures and a region firmly anchored in the modern world.
Ash wood, string, red electrical tape
Photographs : Lydia Mestokosho-Paradis
Private collection, 2012