Cultural Creativity

After attending the Ribbon Skirt Making workshop, I was informed that there is a Cultural Creativity Workshop that takes place every Monday. They are workshops are focused on beading and after my last experiences, I knew I had to attend!

I walked into the Aboriginal Student Centre and it looked like nothing was going on. I immediately started to panic and thought that I had the wrong time. I looked at a white board that contained the schedule and confirmed that I was correct. I walked up to a random table and asked if they knew where this workshop was and they replied with, “Right here! Have a seat!” I introduced myself to the four people around the table got right to work.

I explained that I had never beaded before, and the instructor was very understanding and took me through the process step by step. I first had to practice a line of beads on a straight line, and a line of beads on a curved line. This is done by adding 9 beads onto the string (it is always done in multiples of three), tacking it down three times, finishing with a knot, and then adding 9 beads at a time, until it is complete. The picture below show the before and after of my first time beading!

After I completed this initial step, I was instructed to bead a heart. Because it was my first time I was not very fast, made mistakes, and got frustrated pretty easily. The leader kept insuring me that it is okay to make mistakes, and to just keep trying. “Everyone starts somewhere,” was a phrase that he kept repeating. By the end of the workshop I found that I was getting faster, but time wasn’t on my side! I was able to go around the heart once. I fully attend to go back and finish this project!

The instructor gave me information about beading, and about their culture that I had not known about before. He told stories about how he learned to bead from his father, and his childhood was filled of memories of his father shaking his leg as he created beautiful things out of beads. I was made aware of how people start beading, lose track of time and are suddenly immersed in their work for hours upon hours. Additionally, he spoke about the conversations that take place around a table of people who are beading. It gives them a chance to build relationships, learn new things, and to connect in a different way.

I got asked a question that kind of stuck with me. The instructor chose his words very carefully and asked me, “Did you expect a woman to be teaching this workshop when you first walked in?” I took a moment before I answered and stated that I did, but was also coming in with an open mind and had no expectations set in stones. It really made me step back and think of the assumptions that people make, myself included. Overall, this is something that had an impact on me for sure!

I hope to attend one more time to finish my project!

– Ms. S


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