Thomas Haney Secondary students learned the art of patience when they created a new Métis legacy project beadwork display, which was unveiled at the school last week.
Titled ‘This is an Abacus,’ the piece features intricate floral beadwork dotted in a spiral around a leather hide. The artwork is now on permanent display in the main entrance of the building.
“The Métis are the flower beadwork people,” said Lisa Shepherd, who helped lead the students in the project, which was supported by teachers Natalie Robertson and Nicole von Krogh. “It is a really big part of who we are.”
Crafting the individual flowers is time-consuming work, she added. First, a single bead is placed at the centre of a piece of fabric and then circled by seven more beads, each accompanied by a stitch. Once the base is established, the students add circle after circle of beads until the piece is filled out.
“It is quite a long process,” Shepherd said.
But the students had time. Work began on the art project in 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning and many activities were curtailed to prevent the spread of the virus.
The project gave the students a creative outlet during a difficult time, she added.
“I am just so proud that they persevered,” Shepherd said. “I think it is really a tribute to an inner strength our young people have, and I am just so proud of them.”
Miranda Currie, a THSS student who worked on the art project, said it was nice to connect with her fellow classmates through the creation of the beadwork display.
“I am very grateful to have been a part of it,” she said. “It is just a great family I got to spend time with.”
She said her flower, which featured red and copper petals with a bright yellow centre circled with light-blue beads, reflected the connection she has to her family.
“I didn’t want to just choose my favourite colour,” she said. “I come from a family with a lot of strong women and so those colours in my mind are reds and kind of a copper. That just showed strength to me.”
Alex Couture, another contributor to the project, said he chose pink and blue for his flower because the colours worked well together.
“It feels great,” he said of contributing his work to the permanent school display. “I am glad that I have something that I have made that is going to be on the school wall that students will come and see well after I have graduated.”