The Métis people have long been celebrated for their artistry, creativity and the ability to make the most of limited resources in challenging times. In the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic, some Métis citizens have been setting aside their beadwork, finger-weaving, and embroidery in favour of a new, much needed, project: mask-making.
What began as a few MNO citizens from communities ranging from Kenora to Hamilton and Bowmanville sewing masks on their own volition, has evolved into a coordinated, province wide effort.
The movement for masks has been greatly successful, approximately 400 masks have been created so far and hundreds more are in the works.
Suzanne Jackson, Region 9 Representative for the Métis Nation of Ontario Women’s Council (MNOWC) has been assisting with the coordination of the efforts, organizing orders for sewing kits and recruiting volunteers:
“We’d like to hear from citizens, who have, or knows somebody who has, a sewing machine and can dedicate a couple of days to make up one package of masks. A single kit would add an additional 14 masks to our efforts,” she shared. “Once the masks are completed there may be a need to have them delivered to our citizens and their families.”
Even community partners have been contributing. The Almaguin Quilters Guild has volunteered their time and are set to produce 200 masks to be shared within the Métis community.
The MNOWC is also seeking more skilled sewers to help create gowns. Gowns require more proficiency with fabric and the use of a serger – a specialized type of sewing machine.
Those willing to assist with mask- or gown-making are encouraged to request a kit by contacting their local MNO Community Council Women’s Representative or MNOWC Regional Representative. The materials will be shipped to their address. Once completed, arrangements can be made with the Rep to ensure the masks reach their destinations. All contact information for Representatives is available on the MNO website. If you are unsure who to contact, please email Suzanne Jackson at suzannejWSMNO2016@gmail.com.
The gowns being created will be included in the upcoming “COVID Care Kits,” which will be distributed to Métis households currently caring for sick family members. Masks will also be sent to our MNO volunteers bravely working in the field to support their communities.
“This is such a new and constant evolving situation for all of us,” shares Jackson. “The MNOWC is sincerely grateful for the support we’ve received from the MNO and every single person who has reached out and offered to assist in this effort. The spirit of compassion and dedication is truly alive and well in within our communities.”