Tobique – A new teaching technique for re-learning “slipping” arts, crafts, culture and language has been initiated at Tobique through a filmed study of its past economic history.
The 20-week project involves about 20 male and female individuals of various ages and skill backgrounds and entails integrating youth with elders who will share and co-share duties and responsibilities in carrying out various projects that early Tobique residents depended upon and kept them occupied in following traditional paths, skills and technologies.
The use of the Maliseet language will predominate and will be the main communication medium applied throughout the duration of the project.
During the 20-week tenure, two film teams will be on hand to record the proceedings. The first team is from the local area and the second team is from an outside professional consultant firm who will train the local camera team. Their responsibility will be to follow and record every step and move taken by the project for use in follow-up purposes or for training other communities who might wish to use this process.
Each task completed in the program will be recorded in a short 10 to15-minute film production which will be kept in safe, secure storage for future use. Most tasks in the program will concentrate on aboriginal craftwork such as production of snowshoes, miniature birchbark canoes, suede or leather products, moccasins and souvenir items.
But the primary interest will be on basket making, a long-term Maliseet activity that sustained Tobique families for centuries who happen to reside within the heartland of a thriving potato industry of Maine and New Brunswick where baskets were virtually indispensable in the potato industry until harvesters came on the scene in the 1950s and 60s.
The 20-week course headed by Councillor Brenda Perley is sponsored by the Chief and Council and is intended to provide potential long-term employment outlet for those enrolled in the program and to help others to follow.
Originally published in The Wulustuk Times.