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Photo of a tikinagaan (cradleboard) featuring traditional beading, placed on a backdrop of cedar branches.
Nowegijick family Tikinagaan, Paul Shonias, Kiaashke Zaaging (Gull Bay First Nation)

Dakobinaawaswaan (Baby in a Cradleboard) gathers more than 50 cradleboards from Indigenous communities across Turtle Island (North America). The exhibition showcases the beauty of these traditional baby carriers and their important legacy of love, discipline, protection and tradition. 

This collection is brought together by Shirley Stevens and the Cradle Keeper Co-operative of Northwestern Ontario. It is dedicated to the late Freda McDonald, the Elder of this initiative, who encouraged the project from the beginning. 

For over a decade, Shirley Stevens has been collecting cradleboards from all across North America. She said, “My part was to locate and purchase the cradleboards, which I have done gladly, because I believe it is critical to the well-being of our Nations. I believe it is a positive contribution towards health and wellness for all our children, families and communities.”

“The cradles vary in function and form – some fully beaded, partially beaded, made from cloth, cedar bark, river cane, willow and even a bit of duct tape -­‐ basically derived from whatever people had in their environment. They are full sized, doll sized (made for children in the exact pattern as a full-sized cradle so children could learn healthy parenting strategies), for curio and tourist trade. They are brand new, very old and in between. Some are broken and others pristine. Some are worth a lot of money, according to the Western worldview, and others not. No matter what, they all carry the love of family and community. They all reflect the four life lessons: love, discipline, protection and tradition.”


Opening Ceremony – Saturday, March 12 @ 2 pm

Admission is by donation for this exhibit.

Click here to learn about the different types of cradleboards from across Turtle Island.


This exhibit was organized and circulated by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and curated by Caitlyn Bird. 

Logo for the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  Features a black circle with lower case "ag" inside.


This exhibit was made possible thanks to the support of the following funders and sponsors.

Logo for Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe'iyewigamig, featuring a yellow circle, within it a bear paw print, and within that a bald eagle.
Logo for Ne-Chee Friendship Centre.  Features a graphic of an orange sun with a tepee and evergreen tree on either side.
Logo for the Ontario Arts Council.

Kenora Anishinaabe Kweg

Did you know?

During the Second World War German prisoners of war were brought to the Lake of the Woods area to cut wood for the local mills.  Many of the prisoners enjoyed their time in the Canadian wilderness, and a number of them immigrated to Canada when the war ended.