Birch Bark Basket Making

Birch Bark Basket Making

August 29, 2017

A few years ago CSFS embarked on a rebranding exercize to better share information about our services and programs. A new website, along with updated brochures, poster templates and business cards were created and  were unveiled to the public in the summer of 2016. The traditional birch bark basket was chosen to represent the myriad of holistic wellness programs that we offer. The basket used to create our branding imagry was created by Noeleen McQuary, and we are forever greatful to her for allowing us to use her basket imagry!

We have also been fortunate to have Noeleen and her daughter Chelsey share their knowledge in a CSFS sponsored training program this year. Under the CSFS William Teegee Memorial Scholarship, Noeleen shared her basket making techniques with eight individuals earlier this year. 

Noeleen took the class to the bush to teach them how to harvest the birch bark as it was the right season for it in April, just before the buds popped out. She said we could hear the sap running if you put your ear right up against the tree. Then the class harvested spruce roots and red willow branches to sew the baskets. Noeleen also instructed the class to tell the trees that they would not waste the bark it gave.

Noeleen was a very patient, hands-on instructor who taught the class how to cut the bark and shape it into baskets of various sizes. She and Chelsey cleaned spruces roots with the class for hours and showed the students how to pole holes into the bark with sharpened awls to stitch the baskets with the roots. It was important to keep the spruce roots wet to keep them pliable.

The students spent many hours painstakingly stitching the baskets, while sharing stories about their lives and laughing. The skills Noeleen taught the class gave them to ability to recognize signature stitches of basket makers. The signature stitches used in our branding are unique to Noeleens baskets. We are forever greatful to her for allowing us to base our branding on her signature stitch! 

Destiney Michele took part in the class and had this to say about her experience:

"Having the opportunity to learn how to make baskets out of birch bark was an experience of a life time. Yes it was hard work but well worth knowing how our ancestors made baskets to use as containers prior to colonization, as it never used to be as easy as going to the store and buying a basket or bins to hold your belongings. Making birch bark baskets teaches you the knowledge of what naturel materials are most enduring to hand craft something so beautiful which requires birch bark, spruce roots, and willow. You learn the process and the traditions of how to properly gather the materials and the leave of respect that you should have for the land when gathering the materials. Throughout the process of crafting your basket you learn patience’s for the work you do and appreciation for the work you do after completing your baskets. You can also develop strong hands if you choose to make baskets often. I enjoyed taking the course on learning how to make birch bark baskets and would recommend anyone given the opportunity to take part in one, to do so."

Noeleen is available to share her knowledge on traditional Carrier birch bark basket making with others. She can be reached at 


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Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT