A birchbark canoe, made by Algonquin Elder William Commanda and gifted to the Friends of Gatineau Park by the Waddell family, will now be part of the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) Gatineau Park Visitor Centre.
The canoe was unveiled this morning in Gatineau Park by Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Gilbert W. Whiteduck, National Capital Commission Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Claudette Commanda, Alexander Waddell and Sarah Crowe, of the Friends of Gatineau Park.
Elder William Commanda crafted this canoe in 1988 and gifted it to Dr. Walter G. Waddell, the man he credited for having saved his life in the 1960s. Dr. Waddell passed away in July 2013, and his family wished to showcase this canoe in the Capital Region, as well as recognize Elder Commanda’s legacy.
The NCC and the Friends of Gatineau Park worked closely together to find a place for this piece of Aboriginal Canadian heritage, which will be a valuable addition to the NCC’s Gatineau Park Visitor Centre exhibit. Being able to showcase this canoe in Gatineau Park will go a long way toward helping people appreciate the importance of the Algonquin presence in the region.
“The NCC welcomes residents and visitors to discover the rich natural and cultural heritage of Gatineau Park,” said Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Capital Commission. “We are honoured to display this canoe in the Park, and hope that, through its presence, visitors will be inspired by Elder Commanda’s lifelong passion for environmental stewardship.”
“One of Elder Commanda’s most important teachings was being a promoter of environmental stewardship and bringing people of all walks of life together, which resonates with the Friends of Gatineau Park,” said Sarah Crowe of the Friends of Gatineau Park. “We are grateful to the Waddell family for this gift, which will help us tell this important story, communicate the Algonquin cultural and heritage ties to Gatineau Park, and strengthen the role we play in the Park’s conservation.”
For more information about Gatineau Park, the public may contact the NCC at 819-827-2020, 1-866-456-3016 (toll-free), 613-239-5090 (TTY) or 1-866-661-3530 (toll-free TTY), visit the NCC’s website at gatineaupark.gc.ca, or visit the NCC’s Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, 33 Scott Road, Chelsea, Quebec.
For more information about the Friends of Gatineau Park, visit friendsofgatineaupark.com.