Kanesatake is beading the pandemic away in a series of workshops on moccasin making, offered to the community throughout March and April.
The Kanesatake Health Centre, in collaboration with Tsi Ronterihwanónhnha ne Kanien’kéha Language and Cultural Center, launched this creative online initiative as a way to offer a culturally-pertinent program to the community.
“It’s one way to transcend the population, make them proud of who they are, see what they can do culturally and create something positive,” said the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) spokesperson Robert Bonspiel.
The eight-week beading workshop is a first for Kanesatake, which ought to pave the way for something bigger, Bonspiel believes.
“It took off really fast and this indicates that it will be a success,” he said, confirming that all spots of the initiative are filled. “It’s a precursor for future events.”
For the first edition, Kanehsata’kehró:non Kawisaienhne Albany will be teaching the course to a handful of community members. Each participant will receive a moccasin kit, which includes leather and different-sized beads.
“It is going to be a challenge to teach them on Zoom, but I think we can all get it done,” said Albany.
The 22-year-old beader started to learn the craft two years ago with the help of her aunt, Marie David, and Kahnawa’kehró:non Jessica Hernandez. In a short amount of time, the young woman was able to build quite a good reputation in the community. For Albany, beading is all about keeping traditions alive and reclaiming a culture that was taken away.
While beadwork has been an integral part of Onkwehón:we culture for centuries, it has never been something typically intertwined with Kanesatake’s identity - something that Albany wishes to change. She said that the pandemic is the perfect time to learn a new hobby and that she hopes to be able to spread her passion to others.
“There aren’t a lot of beaders in Kanesatake, so teaching and creating a community of beaders is something I would love to do,” said Albany, who explained that she previously taught beading and has seen how it brought the community together.
The workshop will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights for two hours, to work nimble-finger-magic and improve creativity. Bonspiel also said they are working out details to be able to offer lessons on YouTube to a wider audience.
“We’ve been talking about putting together additional workshops for people who are interested, so they could go back and look at the programs that are put online and follow-through, “ said Bonspiel.
Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door