Submitted by: Jessica MacLean

Sahra and Jessica MacLean.

On May 21, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Infinite Reach Student Solidarity Network facilitators Sahra MacLean and Jessica MacLean will be hosting a Métis beading workshop in partnership with the Textile Museum of Canada’s Wide Open Wednesday program.

The Textile Museum of Canada offers workshops on Wednesdays that explore maker culture. These workshops bring artists and artisans into the museum to share their craft. In partnership with the museum, the MacLeans will be sharing their traditional knowledge of beading and how they explore Métis identity through making beaded art.

For the contemporary Métis person beading is a pass time, something done to unwind after work or on the weekend. It is an art, an expression of Métis vast creativity and artistic tribute to nature. But for most beading is a social activity, something brought to the coffee shop to work on while spending time with friends. Beading is a way that Métis connect with their children as it is learned from a mother or grandmother. Beading is also a way to show love for one another, there is nothing sweeter than the gift of beading from a loved one. No matter what it means to each individual, the practice is rooted in Métis heritage and is a defining feature of Métis culture.

Material culture is integral to the Métis way of life. Métis define themselves in many ways; by music, stories, and particularly by the way they adorn themselves. This is especially apparent when looking at distinctive Métis objects such as the iconic sash or Métis traditional clothing. These are physical manifestations of a woman’s love for her family. These are symbols of Métis culture that can only be preserved by making them part of everyday life.

The MacLeans invite the community to join them on May 21, from 5pm to 8pm at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto to explore your own Métis identity through the art of beading. The workshop is free with a pay-what-you-can admission to the museum. Everyone from beginners to expert grandmothers welcome.