Moccasins - Are Natural Skins Better than Synthetic Material?

Description of the Project

In the northern First Nations communities, the traditional material used for shoes used to be obtained from the animals. This skill has almost been lost, so that only a few elders still have the knowledge to make moccasins in this way. Two young students decided they would like to learn how to make their own moccasins, and then compare their strength, water resistance and wear to modern synthetic materials used today. Their Great Grandfather agreed to teach them this ancient skill. He killed a caribou, using the meat for food, the hide for clothing and the bones for sculptures, sharing these with his extended family. He showed the students how to make their moccasins from the hide of the animal, so that these two students have now ensured that this art will be saved for another generation. They designed a set of experiments to compare the properties of the moccasins made from the hide, with those made from synthetic material.


The relevant sections of the Policy 4.1.2 Animals are:

8 Vertebrate Animals and Cephalopods
8.1 Vertebrate animals, (i.e. fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals,), and Cephalopods are not to be used in any science fair projects, with the following four exceptions:
i) Observation of animals in zoological parks, farm animals and pets is permitted.
iii) Behavioural experiments with positive rewards are permissible only if the animal is not placed in a stress situation.
iv) Projects involving animal experimentation may be conducted under the supervision of research personnel employed by a University, Hospital, Government Organization or Agency, or Industrial Laboratory and where the animal experimentation has been pre-approved by a Scientific Review Board (or equivalent) in the institution employing the supervisor(s).

(the text above has been abbreviated)

9 Cultural Issues
9.1 YSF Canada recognizes that there are cultural communities within Canada that hold their own values, beliefs, and practices. We encourage any student or mentor from these communities to consult with the YSF Ethics Committee who will work collaboratively, so that projects can be designed which respect both the intent of this policy on animals as well as the culture of the community.

The animal was killed for food and clothing within the cultural norms of the community, and not for this Science Fair Project, which is thus eligible for both the Regional Science Fair and for the CWSF.