Footprints In Time

On Friday, I was part of Indigenous people asked to walk across clay in moccasins to help eventually create a bronze cast of footprints that will honour footprints of our ancestors found over 100 years ago in Toronto, but then covered over by concrete as described below in the Toronto Star article from 2008.

This is one monument that I think needed to be done….and glad it will not be covered over by concrete….but rather be set in bronze….lasting for years to come….and maybe it will bring about a positive conversation of how long the ‘footprint’ of Indigenous people have been on this land. It will certainly be far better than those of dead politicians. Because we are still walking this land.


UPDATE!!!! Birch Bark Telecaster SOLD!!!!

Recently I received bad news. The hand surgery for my left hand I had hoped for has been cancelled as the arthritis in my left hand is far worse than originally diagnosed and surgery will not be able to remedy the situation.

SO I am selling off some of my guitars and amps….most that have hardly been played or used if at all due to my injury.

One of these was the birch bark Telecaster I had built by Jesse Brown of Brown Bear Guitars….called Wiigwaasi-Mukwa (Birch Bark Bear).

Her new home is with great friends and fabulous musicians, the Indigenous group Digging Roots….Raven will be putting her through her paces beginning at the Mariposa Folk Festival….and she will be travelling around the world….sharing our story and our vision musically. I couldn’t think of anybody better to have her….Raven is also of the Bear clan. An awesome guitarist, Raven played the bark Telecaster at the recent Luminato event Biziindan! for the first time. It was obvious Raven was the right person for such a special guitar….I am honoured he bought her and will play her regularly.

Birch Bark Telecaster

This is the birch bark Telecaster I had built by Jesse Brown of Brown Bear Guitars….showing its progression:


This is the finished product:


My birch bark Telecaster is finally done….miigwech (thank you) to Jesse Brown of Brown Bear Guitars for an incredible job….guess I’ll call her Wiigwaasi-Mukwa (Birch Bark Bear)

Build breakdown:

Birch bark top and back
Swamp ash body
Roasted birds eye maple neck/fretboard
Abalone inlays/side dots
Bone nut- cut for 10-46 strings
Abalone/chrome knobs
Gotoh locking tuners
Gotoh in tune vintage bridge
21 m/m nickel frets
Standard strap buttons
Black pickguard
Reverse control plate
Paper in oil capacitor
Pushpull coil splitting on tone knob
McNelly A2 sig bridge pickup, Cornucopia neck humbucker
Nice C shape neck profile
12” fretboard radius
1.675” nut width
Bear face and script headstock woodburned logos
Nitro lacquer finish

Jay Bell Redbird RIP

I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Jay Bell Redbird. Jay was an amazing artist….and a friend. I am honoured to have known him and to have worked with him on more than one occasion….

I remember first meeting Jay and hanging out at the Coloured Stone….having some great conversations about art….always admiring the images he could create….later taking part with him in an art show at the Skydome Pow Wow….eventually doing a mural project together at the First Nations School….but eventually losing touch except for occasionally bumping into each other now and then.

In recent years we had reconnected….even being part of the Thunderbird Marketplace at the Spring One Of A Kind Show together a few years back….later we would run into each other at shows….and community events…..he always made me laugh.

Jay was more grounded….very happy in his life….especially with Halina walking with him. He was a good man living a good life in a good way. Family was very important to him….he was very proud of Duke…..his sisters too….and his whole family….Jay loved his family.

He was creating some of his best work….his images stronger than ever.

Prayers and thoughts go out to Jay….his family….and friends….asemaa put down.

New Directions

Recently I have decided to concentrate my creativity on other things than canoe building….deciding to leave that for younger more able folks. I am returning to my first artistic modus operandi – visual arts. I am working on a new series of paintings….combining the traditional Woodland style with my love for music, in particular blues music. I am calling this series “IND-N BLUES”….hopefully I will have this series completed later in 2019.
I have also begun plans to develop a foundation, aimed at working with Indigenous communities, primarily with Indigenous youth. This foundation will help create arts opportunities….visual arts….cultural and traditional skills & teachings….language….possibly as gatherings….or culture & language camps. Yes the canoe will be part of such endeavours.
But so will music and video….as it is hoped that a multi media approach may be the best way to reach out to communities and especially the youth.
I am also returning to my love of music….in particular the guitar….and roots music of any kind. I hope to be able to write some music….record….even possibly perform….but also to produce and promote some great talent.
So this is my new dream….I am moving forward in its pursuit. Finding new directions….even in some old ones.

Wahnapitae Canoe Build Indefinitely Cancelled

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We had requested a band council resolution, or at least letter of support from the Wahnapitae FN chief and council, and to also have plans for dates of a build confirmed, to be provided by no later than Sept. 14th. This has still not yet been provided, by that date or since to this moment in time.

We also requested that the build be done at the band office. We were sent an email from Chief Larry Roque stating issues with having a build done at the band office, all which seemed manageable despite the stated concerns; it was also suggested the pow wow grounds be used but obviously without considerations of the cooler weather now upon us or the impossible task of doing so in winter or in early spring in an outside location.

This is what we had stated just last month:

“I still want to do a community canoe build at Wahnapitae….maybe at band office….with an Anishinaabemowin immersion camp component for 1 or even 2 weeks.

We have spoken to the Ontario Arts Council and the funding we got for this build through their Indigenous Culture Fund has a two year window and we have been given an extension. Until late next spring. So we may try to start up the build over the winter or even early spring. Dates and location are still being sorted out.

To make this truly work as a community build it needs to be coordinated through the band….to bring all sides together….to pull everyone together no matter what family you might be from.


We could bring in folks from outside communities even….Indigenous or non-Indigenous would be welcome.

Everyone involved from outside Wahnapitae FN could stay at the cabins at Rocky’s….

We would stipulate that no drugs and no alcohol be allowed during the time involved building the canoe….or while at the language camp.

Other funding could be gotten….given we now have more time for sure….so can keep cost minimal to Wahnapitae FN if at all.

BUT we would want the support of the band….in either a Band Council Resolution or some other form of written support.”

We have done our part as best we could….even got an extension from OAC….but to go back up to Wahnapitae and do so properly we needed much more funding than what is left from this OAC funding. We have not really ever been provided by much if any support from the current chief and council (no offense intended to any of them as we realize the other likely more pressing matters that they have to deal with)….BUT we could have added much needed funding without any cost to the community with just a simple band council resolution or letter of support….this was not supplied. We also wanted a commitment to our stipulation of no drugs or alcohol being allowed during the time involved building the canoe….or while at the language camp.

Therefore we do not think we will be able to complete the birchbark canoe build as originally planned at Wahnapitae FN. Not by the time provided by the Ontario Arts Council’s extension to our Indigenous Cultural Fund deadline which is now to the end of next May (2019). This ICF funding will have to be used on a similar project somewhere else.

And we are not sure that a canoe build is likely to happen even in the near future at Wahnapitae FN. We have other commitments and builds planned for elsewhere.

That we are sorry to say….we had really hoped to make this work at Wahnapitae. But perhaps it was just poor timing….or that the community was not quite ready….or just not enough interest in such things….or too many other issues happening. Whatever it was, we are sorry things did not work out as planned….we did try twice to make it happen….but guess it was not meant to be….and now highly unlikely to ever be.