I'm so excited! My order of birch bark has arrived. Now I can finally put the finishing touches on my 52 WEEKS PROJECT. My vision was to add the totem animal meaning for each piece and tuck it behind each canvas but I didn't just want to use a piece of paper so I began to dream of the birch trees I grew up with in the north. When I was younger, a Cree Grandmother taught me how to harvest birch bark sustainably, but since we have no birch trees here I had to order some and I have not been disappointed. So today I will cut up the bark and begin the process of transferring the information that I had gathered over the past year which makes me very happy.
Traditionally birch trees have been extremely valuable to many Indigenous people. Because of its waterproof nature it was used to create buckets, baskets, plates, funnels, utensils, bowls, wigwams or tipis and canoes. It was used medicinally and often in burial ceremonies. It was also used in several different forms of artwork such as birch bark biting. It was so valuable that it was honoured in religious ceremony in which the spirit of the forest was offered thanks and a request for protection and strength.