Students who studied under Ms Kal^na, learned about many things, including how our oral traditions evolve over time, how to sew, the importance of gifting to others first and to express their unique identity through thoughtful reflection, use of language and by making a garment that is unique to them and tells their story.
Beginning with the basics, students learned how to work with patterns, become familiar with sewing terms, use a sewing machine and to seek patience when their project became difficult.
As students learned the basics, they celebrated their accomplishments by sewing something and gifting it to a loved one. They were encouraged to be of a good mind throughout the entire project — mindful of who they were sewing for as they chose color schemes, cloth, ribbons and appliqué designs. Each gift displayed their love for another person important to them.
With the sewing basics covered and gifting responsibilities taken care of, it was time for each student to roll up their sleeves! Students were encouraged to put everything they learned into action and use their new found knowledge to help them design a garment that tells their story — who they are and what Nation they belong to.
Ideas explored included reflection on what their family is known for? What gifts did their grandparents have? What is their clan and what are their clan responsibilities? Which nationalities resonate with them? Are there family members who could be interviewed to learn more? After the students completed their research, Audra Williams, Cultural Coordinator, helped them work through their designs, taking what they learned and applying that to their skirts.
Upon completion of their sewn skirt, each student was asked to write about what their design represents and to use as much of their native language as possible. Students have the opportunity to read their paper aloud or have a language teacher read it for them as they model their creation during the First Nations Fashion Show.
In preparing for the First Nations Fashion Show, students were also asked to keep an open mind when someone gifts their time and expertise. There are thousands of teachings that will cross our paths in our lifetime and we are continually learning. It’s up to us to learn what we can and pass on those teachings for generations to come!