News Release

CNL Welcomes Algonquin Master Canoe Builder Chuck Commanda to the Chalk River Laboratories

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation Master Canoe Builder constructs traditional birch bark canoe using materials harvested from CNL site 

Chalk River, ON, October 05, 2017 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, welcomed Chuck Commanda, a Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation Master Canoe Builder to CNL to display a traditional birch bark canoe that was built using materials harvested from its Chalk River Laboratories site. Chuck is raffling the 12 foot canoe to raise money in support of Kijicho Manito Algonquin Nation, a nearby First Nations community.

While you typically see sailboats and speedboats on the lakes and rivers in the Ottawa valley today, thousands of years ago First Nations people used handcrafted birch bark canoes to navigate the same waterways. Chuck Commanda is one of a few remaining First Nations individuals who still builds birch bark canoes in the traditional manner, a craft that has been carried down through generations. Chuck is well‐known for his work and has been commissioned to build these rare canoes across North America.

The canoe was built by Chuck, with the support of Stephen Hunter from the Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini First Nation, using a single piece of birch bark that was harvested this summer from the Chalk River Laboratories site. The birch trees were discovered by CNL employees during routine forestry management work, and Chuck was invited to CNL to examine the materials. While birch trees are in abundance in the Ottawa Valley, not all are suitable for canoe construction. Chuck and Stephen then harvested the materials with the assistance of several CNL groups, and built the canoe at his studio over the ensuing months.

“Obviously CNL’s role in this initiative is small, but we’re happy to play a part in helping Chuck and Stephen build this canoe and to increase awareness about their charitable work,” commented George Dolinar, Director of Environmental Protection at CNL. “Overall, it was a great experience for our employees, who were given the opportunity to meet with Chuck, learn more about the traditional craft of birch bark canoe building, and to see the canoe and examine the traditional tools first‐hand.”

The draw for the canoe will be held on Sunday, October 8 at the Maynooth Municipal Hall. Chuck will be selling raffle tickets for the remainder of the week at a cost of $20 each, with 1,000 tickets available for purchase. If you’re interested in purchasing a ticket, they are available in the Bancroft and Maynooth area. If interested, please contact Chuck for more details at 613‐915‐7988. All proceeds from the raffle, which is presented by the Anishinaabe Baptiste Community Organization, are being raised in support of Kijicho Manito Algonquin Nation.

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Patrick Quinn
Director, Corporate Communications
CNL, 1-866-886-2325