Timmins Museum and Mennonite committee hold indigenous cultural gallery
TIMMINS – Kicking off National Treaty Week in Timmins, the Mennonite Central Committee and the Timmins Museum partnered up to host a celebration of Indigenous culture and craftwork.
Artisans put their works on display and explained the history of their craft to visitors.
Many of the craftspeople who attended have been creating their culturally-inspired pieces for decades.
"This is a great opportunity for these artists, even the drummers, to come in and showcase the talents that they have and teach people about their culture," says Molly McTiernan, Timmins Museum.
The Mennonite Centre says it's especially important to spark interest in these Indigenous works as the art form risks dying off as generations pass.
"The craft is being lost by so many and artisans talk to us and say, 'we want to keep that alive'," says Lyndsay Mollins Koene, Mennonite Central Committee.
The Niska Noël event, niska meaning 'goose' in the Cree language, lets visitors explore, learn and even buy the works on display.
"One day he says, he gave me his tools and his files and said, 'okay it's your turn now, go home and do it,' and he gave me a piece of rock. Now that's over 40 years ago, the wife and I have been doing it. Since then, never stopped," explained John Etherington, Artisan.
Vendors say events like this are a way of making a statement to the community.
"To show people that we have native… we are good at artisan, we are good at craftwork. And it's nice to see people looking at the vendors and their wares," says Wilma Neegan, Artisan.
Visitors also enjoyed bannock prepared in a teepee and demonstrations of the various crafts.
For some, the event may have been their first exposure to Indigenous artwork, but organizers say every new face is a step forward in keeping the culture alive.