A traditional corn husk doll making session hosted by Humber North’s Aboriginal Resource Centre was also a lesson about remaining humble.
Corn husk doll making by using corn stalk is specific to the Haudenosaunee people, teaching humility, said Quazance Boissoneau, Humber’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer.
The making of the dolls is a morality story “to teach that everyone is equal,” she said.
Patricia Chrisjohn, the Healthy Living coordinator for the Indigenous Friendship Centre, told participants the origin of corn husk doll making comes from a story about a doll with a beautiful face who went from village to village, playing with children. One day she notices her reflection in a river.
“She started making judgments of people based on their looks, choosing who she’d play with,” Chrisjohn said.
As punishment for her judgemental actions, the girl’s face is taken away.
“Her face, what she considered to be her most prized possession, was gone because of the way she was treating all of the other children,” Chrisjohn said.
The people of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, meaning the People of the Long House, from that day forward would make corn husk dolls without faces to remind themselves not to judge others based on appearance, she said.
The Great Spirit took her face away as punishment for her conceit.
“Everyone in the eyes of the creator are equal, we’re all loved, we’re all equal, we’re all valuable, and we’re all important,” Chrisjohn said. “It’s a story about respect, friendship and humility.”
The teachings of the story help people become conscious of how they look at other people and to see the pureness in someone’s spirit, she said.
Corn husk dolls can also be made as mementos, such as a doll can be made of a family member who is away from home, Chrisjohn said.
“Another idea is sending [those loved ones] a doll as a gift,” she said. “Dress it in a little piece of fabric that is part of your clothing. There are lots of ideas.”
ARC works in partnership with regional Aboriginal communities to host numerous events during the school year to ensure Aboriginal students are supported and connected to their learning environment academically, culturally and socially, Boissoneau said.