Students from St. Joseph's Secondary School recently launched the birch bark canoe they made with their own hands.
After being blessed by Father Kevin Maloney and smudged by student Jacob Laughing, 11 students from the school’s native studies class took turns paddling the canoe near Gray’s Creek Marina.
Funding for the project came from the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese. Maloney said the bishops of all Catholic dioceses of Canada embarked on a campaign to raise money to support programs of education and justice for aboriginal people in their community.
The goal is to create awareness of native culture and build bridges with aboriginal peoples.
"The diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall was happy to fund this birch bark canoe project,” said Maloney, adding the project helps students gain an awareness of the great traditions of aboriginal people.
Students were happy the canoe was finished and paddled nicely.
"Wow it sits high in the water," said student Devin Primeau, who couldn't wait to be first to get in the canoe.
The canoe took nine days to build under the guidance of Algonquin canoe builder, Daniel Pinock Smith. The 14-foot canoe was built by hand using only traditional materials - birch bark, cedar, ash, spruces roots and spruce gum.
After the brief dip in the water, the canoe will be auctioned off on EBay to raise money for a native studies student bursary.