A Ribbon Skirt class is being held this Saturday at the Portage Friendship Centre. It's in response to questions from grandmothers and granddaughters about where they could find them. Portage Friendship Centre Employment and Training Consultant Jeanna Emms says the classes seemed like a perfect solution. And they were!
"It was so popular and we just had so many people requesting it that we've just had to continue," notes Emms. "We do it pretty steadily over the winter except for in December when it's pretty busy. We stop again in the summer because everybody's busy with holidays and camping. We don't want to clutter up everybody's weekends with stuff that they would rather do in the winter."
She explains the Centre succeeded in accessing various funding streams to provide the program. She notes it's being held this Saturday, with all materials provided and it's free of charge.
"It's just simpler for us to pick up everything and then have a selection for them to choose from," continues Emms. "We sat down and some of them have absolutely zero sewing skills, and some are really, really good. So, we allot about six hours for that. We provide some lunch and snacks for a lot of our families. This is a day out for mom or grandma. This is a minute for themselves. We like to pamper them a little."
Emms says they also share teachings about the ribbon skirts and why women wear them. She notes it's meant to remind women of their place and what their obligation is to family, to community, and to themselves, and not as though they're restricted to cooking and cleaning.
"It's one of my favourite activities to do," adds Emms. "I think that all women should be wearing a ribbon skirt, or at least have access to one to be able to participate in those cultural events. It's just to be respectful of the Indigenous culture. Once they carry some of those teachings, I think their respect increases because they have more understanding."
She explains women in our community are needed and they hold an important place. Emms says many years ago, a lot of consultation took place as women made decisions for the entire community.
"I can't help but think that maybe, if some women had more input, things might get cleared up a lot more quickly, but I might be biased, being a woman and all," says Emms. "Those skirts represent a teepee. If you look at a skirt, it looks like a teepee. And in that teepee, there's the family; the women and the children and the father. That teepee protects them. In the centre of that teepee is where all the love is."
It takes place between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and you can check on their Facebook page for class times.
"We always post that we don't take any prior or ahead-of-time registrations, so please call us," adds Emms. "Be confident we've been running it for two or three years now pretty consistently. As long as we're still able to access funding to help fund it, I don't see it stopping anytime soon."
They're planning for six or eight people.