Trent University Library & Archives continues to offer electronic collections and virtual services. As part of the University’s limited and reduced campus presence, Bata Library and the Durham GTA Campus Library & Learning Centre are closed and physical collections are unavailable. Virtual services and support are available by contacting Check for updates regularly on our COVID-19 Alert Page.

Curbside Pickup for Faculty & Graduate Students is available starting June 23rd.

Making a Birchbark Canoe Exhibit

Wiigwossi Jiimaanke (Making a Birchbark Canoe)


Trent’s Indigenous Studies PhD program and the Indigenous Studies department invite students, staff and faculty to join us on a journey of resurgence—wiigwossi jiimaanke—building a birchbark canoe.

"Our wiigwossi jiimaan will be a both living being, and a functional vehicle. Building this jiimaan together, as a community and guided by Artists-In-Residence Kevin Finney and Jillian Collins, will connect and reconnect us to the land, the trees, and the water, as well as to each other. As our hands work with the natural materials, our hearts and minds will interact. We will visit sharing stories and knowledges, as we create." 

Construction of the birch bark canoe will take place daily in the Bata library Atrium beginning February 6th through to Monday February 20th. Everyone is invited to drop in, visit, ask questions and use your hands.

"We are very pleased to have the library partner with the students, faculty and the artists-in-residence, Kevin Finney and Jillian Collins to help bring Indigenous Knowledge to the Trent University community in a very real and personal way," stated Robert Clarke, University Librarian. 

This project - wiigwossi jiimaanke - was made possible by the generous contributions of many people who offered their knowledge, time, expertise or financial support; especially: Jacqueline Muldoon, Provost, David Newhouse, Paula Sherman, Doug Williams, Brenda Maracle O'Toole, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Barbara Wall, the Indigenous Studies Program, the Indigenous Studies PhD Program, First People’s House of Learning and Gzowski College. Ms O'Toole would also like to thank the many departments at Trent who offered their assistance and support including the: Bata Library & Archives, Risk Management, Security, Facilities Management, Print Shop & Champlain College. 


For more information about this exhibit, please contact: Brenda Maracle O'Toole, Graduate Program Assistant, Indigenous Studies Phd Program, Trent University.


Guest Lecturer/Artist(s) in Residence Biographies

Kevin Finney

 Kevin Finney is an artist and activist, who over the past twenty years has worked to promote equitable and sustainable solutions through community based revitalization of traditional knowledge and land-based relationships. Kevin’s artwork expertise includes birch and elm bark basketry, burl feast bowls and spoons, traditional hide tanning, twined bark fiber bags and antler carving.  Learning from traditional knowledge carriers in the Great Lakes Region including; Steven Pigeon, Ferdy Goode and Earl Otchingwanigan, he has completed the construction of 8 birch bark canoes, 3 elm bark canoes and 3 dugout canoes.  Kevin was a guest lecturer in the Indigenous Food Systems course last winter, and presented a birch bark seed box building workshop with Indigenous studies PhD students. He served as Director of the Jijak Foundation for the Match-E-Be-Nash-E-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians from 2012- 2016, and currently serves as Executive Director of the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute and a partner at Nengoskwan Consulting. Kevin makes his home with his family along the beautiful Waabozosiibiwing (Rabbit River) in Western Michigan.


Jillian Collins

 In this existence this is how I feed my soul

 Jillian Collins is an Indigenous Artist, Dreamer, Adventurer and Tour Guide to the universe for her four children. She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1985. Consumed by her curiosity, culture, humanity and senses, she was driven to devour as much traditional Indigenous knowledge as she could. Culture has organically made its way in almost every medium she puts her hands to. Jillian applies a contemporary spin on the traditional indigenous arts. Her work with winter bark ranges from the more traditional baskets to modern fashion pieces. As she blends these mediums, she takes you over the edge, pushing the cultural taboo of walking two worlds at once. Through her continuous work with Tradition bearers, non-profits, tribes, schools and museums Jillian hopes to create a bridge to traditional knowledge that inspires the next generation.