It was a historic day for the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum on Wednesday when two SRSS classes met on the grounds to build a tipi with the help of a Cree/ Metis artist. 

Last October Executive Director Gary Dyck told Steinbachonline News that Reid Bouvier, a Metis teacher at the SRSS had connected with a good friend of his and who was willing to build a Tipi on the MHV grounds in spring 2023.

Well, that day came and Dyck couldn't be more excited. He tells us why the day should be remembered. 

“May 17 is a historic day because this is the first time, that I know of, that we've had a physical Indigenous artifact on the grounds (of the MHV). We've had the ox cart, which is a Metis-kind of symbol, but this is really, I think more, kind of, the plains Indigenous community.” 

Dyck continues, “Having it (the Tipi) here on the grounds between the Sod House, the Semlin and the rest of the village is just quite something."

"You know, I just learned this morning, that each pole kind of represents the village, like a family. You know, you start with the mother and the father, and then you have a child and you just keep adding poles. Right now, I think we've got about 8 or 9 poles up.”  

Dyck says it’s been interesting to watch the Tipi being set up. “They (the poles) lean on each other differently than I thought. It's fascinating to see how it's built, but very symbolic too, in the way that we want to see here with Truth and Reconciliation, as the MHV museum is connected to our Indigenous community and how we want to lean on each other and support each other and go into the future. So, I'm glad to have this up and to acknowledge that.”

SRSS Students and teachers sitting inside the Tipi they built listening to Tipi JoeSRSS Students and teachers sitting inside the Tipi they built listening to Tipi Joe

The students of the SRSS Ethics and Indigenous classes built the Tipi in about two hours with guidance from Tipi Joe, who then spent another hour explaining the importance of preserving the indigenous culture in this way.  The students also learned how to make Bannock and enjoyed eating it for their lunch. 

The day started with a mostly clear sky and sunshine so once the Tipi was up, it provided shelter from the heat. Then, as the afternoon wore on, clouds moved in and once again the Tipi was a place for shelter, this time to warm up. 

Tipi Joe is a Cree/ Metis multi-disciplined artist from Winnipeg.  

Dyck says the Tipi will stay up all summer on the MHV grounds. For now, the covering will come off, with a replacement covering being put on in the weeks ahead.