TIMMINS, ON: Northern College now has an impressive selection of Indigenous artifacts on display at its Timmins Campus, thanks to a generous donation from a local business owner. Laurie Belisle, owner of the Polar Bear Trading Post of Cochrane, Ontario, and her late father Guy Belisle made the donation in support of the college’s Indigenous programming and activities.
“In closing our store – The Polar Bear Trading Post – after 18 years in business in Cochrane, we were challenged to find suitable museums or organizations to exhibit our extensive collection of valuable northern artifacts,” said Belisle. “The Trading Post was not just a retail outlet, but also an over 6000 square foot museum. We became educators ourselves, about these artifacts, to the many global visitors to the store over the years. Because all of these artifacts were crafted in the north, they should stay in the north.”
“There is so much historical value in these artifacts that to have them on display at the college, will in itself be a source of pride and encouragement for all First Nation, Metis and Inuit students to embrace the success of their past achievements, and the courage to pursue the future, through their studies. It is a win-win situation for us, the college and the students, and I could not be happier with choosing Northern College.”
Belisle was at Northern’s Timmins Campus today, attending the official unveiling of the newly-donated artifacts. She was joined by Northern College Vice President, Finance, Administration and Indigenous Services Mike Baker, Indigenous Student Advisor Joe Nakogee, Campus Elder David Faries, and representatives from the Native Student Assembly.
“We’re very grateful to our friends at the Polar Bear Trading Post for this most generous donation, which holds immense cultural value,” said Baker. “These priceless artifacts are sure to inspire and educate members of the Northern College community for decades to come.”
Included in the Polar Bear Trading Post’s donation is a 19-foot totem pole, an 18-foot birch bark canoe, a set of handmade snowshoes, an 11-piece set of dance regalia, an Inuit Kulutuk, one soapstone carving, one moose antler carving, an Inuit packing doll, a Cree birch bark basket, a local Cree deerskin children’s vest, a red fox fur hat, a Mohawk ceremonial soapstone pipe, and a pair of Cree moose hide moccasins.
The totem pole included in the donation was carved by the late Henry Joseph Peltier, an accomplished musician and wood carver from Manitoulin Island. The included snowshoes were crafted by the late Eddy Trapper of Moose Cree First Nation.
Pictured (Left to Right): Northern College Vice-President, Finance, Administration and Indigenous Services Mike Baker; Polar Bear Trading Post Owner Laurie Belisle; Timmins Campus Elder David Faries
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