Earlier this year I missed a wonderful opportunity to join a group of beaders lead by First Nations artisan and educator, Naomi Smith, on a special day of beading.  I can't begin to express my disappointment with the conflict in my schedule.

This workshop was organized by the Jake Thomas Learning Center at Six Nations. Naomi was the main instructor but she said, "I always have my Seneca Elder, Yvonne Thomas there to talk and share stories. So while Yvonne wasn't teaching the beading she was in fact sharing her knowledge and stories with the group. I supplied the pattern, fabric and the beads for the project and the instruction."

Naomi and the women who did attend made a number of beautiful beaded moccasin vamps (tops). The group consisted of members of the Grand River Bead Society, native ladies from Six Nations and from other parts of Ontario who are not part of bead groups.

The vamps were for a very special art installation project called Walking With Our Sisters.  The project honors the lives of missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada and the United States.  In Canada, over 600 First Nations women have gone missing with scant attention from the media and the public.  Just imagine, these women go missing and nobody raised any hue and cry over them! They should be remembered not forgotten.

Naomi showing how to attach the fabric backing
Naomi's completed vamp
The project is run entirely by volunteers with no government funding.  All the vamps are made and donated by various beading groups and volunteers like the group Naomi taught. The due date for completed vamps is July 15.  There is still time for people to make vamps and send to Christie Belcourt if you can manage it.  Naomi has shared the basic shape pattern in a pdf - what you bead is entirely up to you. Please contact me if you are interested.

The organizers are also looking for donations to help with the cost of shipping etc.

Roxann Blazetch-Ozols' completed vamp
The art installation features deliberately unfinished moccasins - just the beautiful vamps to signify precious lives cut short. Visitors will be encouraged to walk alongside the vamps to remember each and every one of these women who will never walk again.

Completed vamps by Kim, Robin, Yvonne and Terry
The art installation is set to start touring Canada and the US later this summer.  Check their website for the dates and locations.

Check out the Walking with Our Sisters Facebook group page to see more beaded vamp designs and read about the ongoing contributions by both Canadians and Americans to this laudable project. Some of the contributors were first time beaders!

PS Thanks Naomi and Roxann for the pictures!
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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