Interview with Metro Vancouver’s Amy Logan

Original post

Metro Vancouver

AL: Tell me a little about the inspiration behind CrowsNest WildCraft; what is your goal/mandate?

Crow’s Nest is a rewilding education project: it’s a venue for learning wild skills in the pragmatic, corporeal sense of the word, and as well is a venue for re-learning what it means to be wild, embodied, and land-based.

 

MC: Do you see the idea of wild craft as being related to bush craft/survival skills?

 

Absolutely.  The word ‘wildcraft’ encompasses hunting and gathering on – and reciprocating to – one’s home landbase.  Harvesting willow for basketry, cedar for friction fire, or salmonberry shoots for food are all wildcrafting actions.

By extension, I consider modern scavenging to be wildcrafting. My main work is hide tanning, and I wildcraft deer skins by skinning hunters’ deer and keeping the hides.

 

AL: Are you influenced/inspired by First Nations traditions and knowledge in your practice?

 

MC: Decolonization is central to my practice as a hide tanner.  Like bowmaking, hide tanning is a global phenomenon in everyone’s ancestry, but also has specific spiritual and cultural significance to specific Indigenous Nations.

As a settler, I gear my work towards respect and mutual exchange.  I use methodology that does not trample on other people’s cultures, but rather look into my own ancestry for meaning.  I strive to cultivate relationships in that facilitate decolonization in both a broad cultural sense and a personal one.

 

AL: What sparked your interest in tanning? Do you see resurgence in interest in this skill?

 

MC: I was learning to hunt and butcher animals but no one I knew had considered tanning hides, so in my romantic zeal for ‘using the whole animal,’ I went full on into it.  I messed up a lot! But something about it was deeply fulfilling and it’s always been fun. There is a lifetime of learning in this one skill.

There is definitely a resurgence in tanning, and I am happy to see it.  Tanning is a low-impact project that can be pursued by skimming off the excess of the hunt, such as I do.

 

AL: What kinds of animal hides do you work with?

MC: Mainly deer – white tail, black tail, and mule deer – and also elk, antelope, and sheep.

 

AL: How is your practice connected to sustainability and environmental awareness?

MC: Well, it’s quite impossible to be unaware of one’s environment when literally wearing the skins of nearby animals!  That is a very different reality than wearing leather shoes from the mall. There is no easy elevator speech for the experiences of connection, appreciation, and understanding that come from being a peer on the land with other beings.