Youth stitching together new experiences

Indigenous quilting students are creating something beautiful with the help of an expert every Wednesday night.

Several indigenous youths are learning the art of quilt making through the Quilts for Survivors initiatives and the Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program.

The idea for the program came together when Vanessa Genier of Quilts for Survivors and Christina Kioke of the Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program met at an event.

“Vanessa, and others at Quilts for Survivors, have done such amazing work and I knew it would be a valuable experience for our youth and community members to partake in,” said Kioke.

While there have been a few interruptions to the classes since they started in October, the students involved have learned a lot so far, and Genier's open-door policy is giving them more time to work on the project if they feel they need it.

During the eight-week program, participants are learning how to cut fabric, sew quilting blocks and how to put the pieces together.

Aaliyah Kioke-Budd said that the classes were not exactly what she expected.

"It's a lot less stressful than I thought it would be," she said as she laid out fabric for her next block to be sewn together.

The O'Gorman High School student was up and down from the sewing machine to the ironing board as the blocks were pieced together, showing all the skill she'd learned from Genier so far.

“We’re hoping that after the eight weeks, they will have a completed quilt that they can keep for themselves, they can donate directly to the studio or they can gift them to someone,” said Genier.

The Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program has offered other learning experiences and training for participants, including first aid and CPR certification, ribbon skirt and shirt-making workshops and truth and reconciliation workshops in high schools in the area.

Quilting can be a life-long endeavour, according to Genier, who started her quilting education when she was nine years old.

“Sometimes we assume that it’s an older-person hobby, but it’s art. It’s an art form and there are lots of creators out there who are younger.”

Quilts for Survivors has an open-door policy for anyone of any age looking to learn to quilt during their office hours.

“Everyone starts with cutting fabric and we go from there,” said Genier.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com