| Jul 04, 2018

While it won’t be fully functional until the fall, work has begun on a new wigwam at St. James Major Catholic School in Sharbot Lake.

Teacher Mike Veryzer said the project came about as part of a grant from the Algonquin Lakeshore District School Board initiated by special assignment teacher Shawn MacDonald.

“It’s part of the Indigenous Spaces program,” said Veryzer. “It’s to create an improved use of space that reflects the (First Nations) heritage of our area.”

The wigwam will serve several purposes, first and foremost as an example of history, but it will also function as an outdoor classroom as well as provide shade for students at recess.

“We have a lot of room but not much shade,” Veryzer said.

The project began last year but had to be put on hold until now, he said.

“It required knowledge I didn’t have, so I contacted Danka Brewer, who said ‘I know a guy,’” he said.

The guy turned out to be Master Lodge Builder Ross Saunders, who collected materials and assembled a team (Brewer, Leta Waite, Christina Bendevis and Jordan Mackinaw) to build the large structure.

“It will hold 30-40 people,” Saunders said. “Probably the whole school because kids are little people.”

Veryzer said they hope to purchase a large canvas to cover the structure before the fall, and then it will be decked out with the “proper adornment.”

He said the wigwam is a nice addition to the school’s Three Sisters garden (corn, beans, and squash) project.

“It’s a community garden that anyone can use,” he said. “We just hope that if people use it, they’ll pull a few weeds while they’re there.”

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