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Past INTERSECTIONS FESTIVAL / MYSEUM INTERSECTIONS 2021 / From Weeds We Grow: Birch Bark Basket Workshop


From Weeds We Grow: Birch Bark Basket Workshop

An online workshop to learn how to make a birch bark basket and further explore our connection to the land.


Join us for a Birch Bark Basket making workshop which is part of the STEPS Public Art “From Weeds We Grow” series.

Led by First Nations artist Lindsey Lickers, this workshop is a reflective exercise that not only allows participants to not only participate through creation, but to dive deeper into their current relationship with the land base they reside on and the environment at large. This workshop will also explore how this relationship with the land has been strengthened by the knowledge learned and shared during the workshop.

Rooted in an expanded understanding of the importance of connecting to land, creation utilizing natural materials combined with personalized symbolism of these learnings, will be actualized through the medium of basket making.

The aim of this workshop is to share one way that Indigenous peoples honour this relationship through craft and provide an opportunity for participants to experience first-hand the interconnectedness in all things, while also honouring their own experiences, histories and relationships with the basket serving as the keeper of this new awareness.

We welcome those who don’t want to or are unable to participate in the making process, but want to learn more, to join.

Following this workshop participants will have created a miniature birch bark basket used in medicine gathering. An online exhibit will present the final work alongside the creative process and learnings.


  • A big birch basket laying on a wooden deck, carrying a smaller birch basket
    Birch Basket by Tanya Murdoch + Ursa Sanderson


“This basket will forever remind me of time spent with beloved longtime friends, and my introduction to connecting with the land in this beautiful, simple medium in the outdoors.” – Sandra Nakata

“I made two baskets. One has an elongated penny with a painted turtle on it from Bon Echo Provincial Park. I remember taking my boys there and paddling across the lake to marvel at the pictographs on Mazinaw Rock. We visited the pictographs years ago but I came across this souvenir a few short hours before I learned about From Weeds We Grow. It’s also a nod to my teacher, Lindsey Lickers of the Turtle Clan. How serendipitous! The second basket has a pewter teardrop with an image of a petroglyph represented on “The Teaching Rocks” outside of Peterborough, ON near Stony Lake.” – Jody Doulis

“My daughter and I did this workshop together…We harvested birch bark in our midtown Toronto neighbourhood from a dead tree standing. We had the other materials left from another workshop making moccasins. We made the baskets together, and my birch vessel holds her(s).” – Tanya Murdoch + Ursa Sanderson

“Keeping the outer bark while shaping the basket requires some concessions to symmetry. Like most living organisms imperfections on the surface add interest.” – Ruth

“On the summer solstice, an orange blanket draped across the horizon as the moon rose over my shoulder while I sewed the Chinese character 日 at the base of this birch basket. 日 has various meanings including day or sun and originated as a pictograph depicting the sun. I’m grateful for this opportunity to learn about Indigenous ways of doing, make connections to my ancestry, and sew while the sun rises and sets.” – Emily Chan

“After reflecting on one of the guiding questions Lindsey Lickers gave us: “What in nature and your surroundings is reflective of resiliency?” I was inspired to embroider a simple running stitch in a looping shape with arrows on either end, on my miniature birch basket. The shape and colours represent the cycles we find in water, and the Humber River watershed. I reflected on the time I’ve spent by the Humber River while living in Toronto, and realized I had never really questioned how far the water travelled before it reached Lake Ontario, nor how much wetland there was before more colonial- urban development had spread. I am grateful to have spent time with the birch bark, exploring another beautiful basket form, and connecting to birch hand in hand with water.” – Sienna (she/they)

“This artwork showed me how difficult and under-appreciated craft is. It was fun working with other participants and seeing their progress!” – Hyein Lee Illustration

“I‘m privileged to be invited into this space to contemplate my relationship with the land through creating this art. I’m creating from the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. On one side of the basket, I sewed 7 blue parallel lines to symbolise the seven layers of the birch skin and the seven teachings that the birch tree shares with humans: wisdom, love, respect, honesty, bravery, truth, humility. I chose the colour blue because the lines look like the rippling of water and birch bark also provided humans with material for canoes. I hope to learn the teachings of the birch tree.
I’ve placed an offering of rose petals, nasturtium, basil, shiso leaves and chaga inside the basket. On Father’s day, we passed it around the dinner table, holding it up to the sky with both hands, as if in ceremony, as a vessel to offer up praise and thanksgiving in those living things held within. We did not really have any fancy words, except to say “thank you, thank you, thank you” but we had the gestures and the heart feeling.” – Hannah

“I live in midtown Toronto on a major street where new tall buildings are constantly going up in the neighbourhood. I like the movement of the city but I often miss nature. In this project I enjoyed handling the bark, and learning about the birch tree and Indigenous relationships to nature. As an immigrant to Canada, my interest in Indigenous Culture makes this basket very dear and valuable to me.” – Fariba Kalantari

“I’m reminded of lowbush blueberries and seashells at low tide gathered in hats, pockets and blankets, wildflowers, fiddleheads, and rhubarb along wooded trails bundled in clothing and accumulating in our arms.
And white birch trees elegantly backbending in winter coated with ice remaining strong, too soft to break.
My basket is built to hold, carry and protect these memories and medicines.” – Rey

“Delicate balance of strength and existence! Touching the inside of the bark was a courageous and self regulating experience. We went to our neighbourhood and looked for some birch trees too. Thank you for reconnecting us with this amazing resilient tree.” – Monika, Maithili, Nivethen

“An incredible learning opportunity and experience for myself. Thank you for these lovely teachings. Though I found the making of the basket difficult, I loved every moment I was able to participate and learn.” – Lauren


We invite you to acquire workshop materials one of two ways.


1) Pick up a birch bark basket kit via curbside pickup from Albion Library (June 10-18). To coordinate and secure a material kit this please contact [email protected] by June 15. There is no cost to this option.

Please note that supply is limited and only 30 basket kits are available for pick-up.

2) Source and purchase the materials on your own ahead of time (list below).

Workshop Material:
1 – 10×10” birch bark sheet
4 – bundles of natural sinew
1 – skein of embroidery floss
1 – sewing needle
1 – patch of leather (thimble)
4 – binder clips (to hold the corners in place while sewing)
1 pair of Scissors
– A bin/container large enough to submerge the birch bark sheet in water (overnight)
– A weight to place on top of the birch bark sheet while soaking (to prevent it from floating to the top)

Download the Material List here [PDF]


Lindsey Lickers, ‘Mushkiiki Nibi’ (Medicine Water) is Turtle Clan originally from Six Nations of the Grand River, with matriarchal ties to the Mississauga’s of Credit First Nation. She has been a practicing artist specializing in painting, beading and community arts facilitation going on fifteen years. In 2019, Lindsey was awarded an International Women’s Day Award (City of Toronto) recognizing her unique synthesis of public art, Indigenous women’s issues and governance

STEPS Publc Art is an award winning charity bridging culture, community, and city-building,animating unlikely spaces with unlikely partners. They seek to inspire cities across Canada to create welcoming public spaces that reflect and celebrate local community through artistic excellence.

In partnership with:

From Weeds We Grow: Birch Bark Basket Workshop

19 Jun 2021

1:00PM – 3:00PM

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