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These completed watercraft will be on display in YTM’s Main Gallery.

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For countless generations we – the Indigenous peoples of the North – have used the resources of our rugged homeland for food, shelter, clothing, tools, inspiration and meaning, always passing on knowledge to our descendants. People adapted in each place to camp, hunt, fish and gather materials for every need. Teslin Elder Virginia Smarch said our old people were “part of the land and part of the water.” Their life ways were self sufficient and sustainable over thousands of years.

In this vast land of long winters and short summers, travel was essential. Our ancestors were curious, ingenious and industrious – finding materials, experimenting with designs and honing their skills to build transport for food and families across ocean waters, fast flowing rivers and deep lakes.

Our cultures were overtaken by colonization in the centuries following first contact with newcomers. We persevered in reclaiming our lands, autonomy and cultures. Today 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations are self-governing, exploring new pathways to sustainable prosperity.

Resilient and resourceful Elders survived tough times, preserving our languages and cultures. Honouring them we are building four watercraft ~ a moose skin boat, birch bark canoe, dugout canoe and quyaq ~ for Canada’s 150th anniversary. Like the watercraft of earlier days we have arrived at a new destiny – a place of pride and celebration as independent Indigenous peoples. It is in this spirit that we join with other Canadians – young and old, new arrivals and long time settlers, to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Dań Kwanje ’Á–Nààn: Voices Across the Water carries messages for all of us and for people around the world. We have only to listen, to learn and to share in this time of reconciliation – moving forward together safely into the waters of tomorrow.

http://www.yfnct.ca/news/2017-06-26-boatbuilders-in-their-final-push