What, A Giant Beaver? Using imagery to share Wolastoqiyik knowledge with publics in Wolastokuk

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University of New Brunswick


Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) traditional knowledge, in particular stories, legends, or fables, has been passed on for hundreds of generations, and up until modern times, it was mostly done orally. My critical introduction to my thesis describes the depiction of one Wolastoqey Glooscap story. Glooscap has many different spelling variations, for example, Kluscap, Gluskabi, Kloskomba, Gluskab, Glooskap, and Koluscap. I use Glooscap, as that is the way I know. Glooscap is a cultural hero who, with his relatives, are vital characters in shaping the land and taming the animals of the Maritimes, Quebec, and parts of the United States. He can be associated with the Wolastoqiyik, Mi'kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscots peoples. My critical introduction to my thesis seeks to demonstrate a correlation between the ecological changes my ancestors had lived through and the story about these changes. This story has survived for thousands of years. The environmental changes I explore include a former ice dam formed thousands of years ago at the mouth of the Wolastoq. I also highlight changes in animal life as giant beavers that roamed this territory, who were distant relatives of modern-day beavers. Referencing maps and archeological data, I show how these ecological changes directly relate to the Wolastoqey story about Glooscap and this Giant Beaver that roamed these lands. Within this critical introduction to my creative thesis, I share my creative process to make visible to readers how my final painting has been shaped. My creative thesis depicts my vision of the Wolastoqey story, Glooscap and the Giant Beaver. The final piece is a 24x8 foot acrylic painting that will be added to the City of Fredericton's permanent collection and displayed indefinitely at Fredericton's International airport. The piece's intended purpose is to help educate people from all walks of life about the original inhabitants of the area, the Wolastoqiyik, and how one story displays their deep connection to the land they have lived on for thousands of years. The story and the Wolastoqiyik will help all people who inhabit this area connect to the land themselves as they hopefully understand how the lands had been shaped and how the Wolastoqiyik (the people of the beautiful and bountiful river) had chronicled how it happened.