If you thought that the only thing our hardwood forests produce is firewood, you would be in for a big surprise at UINR’s workshop–Tetapuo’tmnej Nipukt–Making the Most of Our Hardwood Resources. A full house was on hand to hear presentations from people who use the forests for a lot more than keeping warm in the winter! From baskets and canoes to perfumes and musical instruments, the products of our forests are as diverse as the people who produce them.

Todd Labrador is a canoe maker from the Wildcat First Nation and, using a presentation of photos, he illustrated the step-by-step process of creating a birch bark canoe. Some of the challenges are finding birch with thick enough bark and the demands of digging 500 feet of roots to sew the canoe together.

Hugh Ross spent his career working as a forester for Stora Enso and, now retired, he spends time as a hobbyist wood turner making bowls, vases and other items from hardwood burls he finds in the woods. Hugh brought along several of his unique pieces in various stages of completion.

David Fraser is the owner of B.A. Fraser Hardwood Mill in Margaree Valley. David spoke about silviculture practices he uses and, in light of biofuel, the need for improved hardwood management.

Biofuel is a hot topic and Jamie Simpson talked about the Acadian Forest and how high value species are over-harvested, leaving a degraded forest. Jamie expressed caution on the amounts harvested for biofuel and the importance in leaving a significant amount of a harvested tree behind to break down and fertilize the soil, contributing to a healthy forest ecology.

Garett Lahey, an instrument maker from Glace Bay, discussed different wood species he uses in the construction and repair of musical instruments. Garett also experiments with different natural products as finishes on his instruments.

Caroline Gould from Waycobah and her great-grand daughter Ursula Johnson from Eskasoni displayed their unique basket-making skills. Caroline discussed the kind of wood she prefers and displayed baskets in various sizes, in different stages of completion and designs.

Cecelia Brooks from St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick is the owner/operator of a natural body products business that uses natural forest products. Cecelia talked about the many different forest resources she uses in her extensive line of products.

The workshop was held with financial assistance from the First Nations Forestry Program and Nova Forest Alliance, in association with the Sustainable Forest Communities program.

Photo (from top left to right): Jamie Simpson, Todd Labrador, Caroline Gould , Ursula Johnson, Garett Lahey, Hugh Ross, David Fraser , Cecelia Brooks