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View more photos of the 4 foot canoe - Nishi

Metis Craft at Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame

by Ed Hass

On April 16, 2013 I accompanied Metis birch bark canoe builder Mahigan (Marcel Labelle) to the Mississauga Sports Complex to present a replica 4 foot birch bark canoe. Marcel had been commissioned to build the canoe to be displayed in the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame. I was pleasantly surprised that the Sports Hall of Fame would be interested in displaying an item so representative of our culture. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Catherine of the Mississauga Sports Council. She was totally pleased when she saw the beautiful craft that Marcel presented her, a true work of art.

The replica sported two hand carved paddles nicely tied in with a miniature Metis sash. Catherine later explained to me about the Councils’ commitment to honoring the past and the Aboriginal People who were here first. When it came time to take pictures, we thought it fitting to pose in front of the lacrosse display. This wonderful work of art will have a prominent spot in the Hall and will be visited by many of the areas school children and adults alike.

Here is some info from the Mississauga Sports Council:

"It is with great pleasure the Mississauga Sports Council accepted this authentic birch bark canoe, hand crafted by Mahigan. With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and in partnership with Heritage Mississauga and the City of Mississauga, the Sports Council is building new partnerships and preserving our sports legacy by looking back to Mississauga's early sports roots, especially those along the Credit River.

When crafting the canoe, the name that came to Mahigan is Nishi, short for Anishinabae. From the teachings he received, Anishinabae is what the people of this land called themselves prior to European contact. To Mahigan, the name has special meaning from his youth. To the Sports Council, Nishi embodies the spirit of hope for "the people", not a people, but collectively "the people", a way to share our stories and teach respect. For all our different traditions, we are still one, and can be a better people when we work together and respect each other and our planet.

The Mississauga Sports Council will be exhibiting "Nishi" in the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame and in its Sports Hall of Fame Road show, through its Sports Hall of Fame Hazel McCallion Physical Education Program, providing wonderful opportunities to learn together through Nishi and the lifelong positive messages of sport.

All the best, Catherine
Mississauga Sports Council"