Journey Home Begins by Jody Henderson, Wild Moon Child by Jazenta Saultier and Fleur by Karen Anderson. Photo by Lori Deets
Not just pretty to look at
Beading project promotes prayer and healing during the pandemic
By Lori Deets
A group of Moose Jaw women who know beading leads to healing didn’t let the pandemic stop them from connecting. The Moose Jaw Women’s Indigeneity group created the Dancing Spirit in Isolation project, sponsored by the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery.
The women each started with a jingle dress dancer pattern and some beads. From there, they were on their own to come up with an individual design. The only connection these women had with one another was through Zoom sessions where they checked in and talked about their progress.
Dancing Spirit In Isolation was created out of the desire for ancestral practice during an uncertain time, said Barb Frazer, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper. The project adapted to each woman’s interpretation based on the individual’s knowledge and experiences during the early times of the pandemic.
“Dancing Spirit in Isolations represents the intersectionality of our identity and our gender as women. It represents how we are treated as women let alone Indigenous women in society,” explained Frazer.
Artist Jasmine Saultier’s piece, Wild Moon Child, was beaded in honor of all of her First Nation sisters. Saultier said every bead was a prayer for all her relations and their spirits. Saultier, who has only been beading for about two years, said beading means so much to her now.
“I am learning every day to become a better First Nations woman, a better First Nations sister and better First Nations mother,” she said.
Traditionally Indigenous women beaded over the long cold winter months. While the Moose Jaw beading group members were in isolation it seemed like a natural and healthy activity to pass the time.
Bernice Larose said keeping busy is important. Larose would often bead until the wee hours of the morning. “When you have beading or sewing, you have something to do!” she said.
Putting a name and a personal meaning to the dancers was an important aspect to the project. Mavis Olson dedicated and named her dancer after her husband Ralph; the two have been married 51 years. Ralph has recently gone through chemo and radiation treatments for pancreatic cancer.
Shortly after Olson started her beading, she fell and broke her wrist and had to have surgery on it. Mavis’s friends, who were also project participants, jumped in to help. Olson says her beading helped keep her busy and her mind occupied through a difficult time.
The Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery’s mandate is to exhibit contemporary and historic work from the area.
“We want to support Indigenous artists in the work that they do,” said gallery director and curator Jennifer McRorie. “It’s reflective of our community. We are always looking at exhibiting work that reflects the creative pursuits, stories and narratives of people in and around Moose Jaw.”
The exhibit has closed at the Moose Jaw gallery but can still be viewed online. It next travels to Regina for a showcase with the Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective.
Lori Deets is Metis-Cree born in northern Saskatchewan. Being a 60’s Scoop relocated to southern Saskatchewan, Lori now calls Moose Jaw home. Lori has been an avid reader and writer all her life, and has recently entered into the INCA certificate program. Lori is also a recent graduate of the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership from Coady Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Lori is very active in her community of Moose Jaw, as the chair of the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association and Vice Chair of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.