Moccasin workshop extends oral tradition

Lotoya Davids
News Reporter

The Aboriginal Resource Centre at Humber recently launched its Making Moccasins workshop, with the second of six three-hour sessions held on Tuesday.

“I really want to show the beauty of my own culture,” said former co-president of the centre Sage Petahtegoose . “I think it’s worth sharing and letting other people know…this is actually an authentic way that we choose to dress ourselves and we still do it today.

“These detailed moccasins, from measuring your own foot to the bead work, require step-by-step instructions. It is necessary to host six-workshop series so participants are able to finish the lesson for the next class,” said workshop coordinator Liana Canzian.

Workshop attendee Lynn is a part-time Horticulture teacher at Humber College and a Teaching Assistant for Indigenous knowledge courses which is how she learned of the Aboriginal Resource Centre. She is not completely unfamiliar with the lessons, as she had the opportunity of making moccasins for her newborn son years ago.

In this process, designs are made from sewing beads on top of the footwear in a desired pattern.

Canzian says the Aboriginal Resource Centre hosts events like these aiming to influence Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of the Humber community to visit the centre.

“Hosting a workshop to learn a new skill brings a community together, it is a fun way for participants to meet new people”, she says.

Though attending the sessions fully is encouraged, the coordinator has allowed some flexibility based on attendee’s schedules. The workshop accommodates all skill levels while providing guidance from former co-president Sage Petahtegoose when the organization was called the Aboriginal student circle.

Petahtegoose is a Humber film student who was taught the moccasin making skills by her mother following her ‘coming of age’.

“The important part about this class is that it is part of oral tradition. Me teaching them is how I was taught by my mom, so [I’m] passing it down in that sense”, she says.

Petahtegoose says the materials used in the workshop serve as a history lesson on Aboriginal culture. She explains that leather is used to make the footwear as a way of honoring the animal spirits.

“It gave its life for us to be able to survive and so we choose to wear it with pride.”

Petahtegoose hopes more visitors will be drawn to upcoming Aboriginal Resource Centre events, including the winter semester Fit-Nish Challenge and an annual Indigenous Knowledge Gathering, March 24-25.

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