Women come together to sew skirts for Standing Rock

A group of Winnipeg women is calling for donations of flannel and fleece to turn into skirts to show their love for Standing Rock.

Group calling for donations of flannel and fleece to keep protesters warm as weather cools

Candles were lit on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature on Nov. 5 to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

It's getting colder in Standing Rock and a group of Winnipeg women are grabbing needles and thread in an effort to support protesters by keeping them warm.

Chelsea Cardinal is one of the women leading a drive to sew skirts for hundreds of people camped out at the North Dakota reservation in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"This is a really good way of showing the women down in Standing Rock that we love them, we know that they're there, and we're so grateful to them for standing up for our waters, our land," she said.

Since the idea first got rolling earlier this week, Cardinal said more than 20 women have come forward wanting to help out, some of whom can't even sew, but want to cut patterns, thread machines and set up childcare for single moms who are sewing.

'This is what I can help with'

Chelsea Cardinal is helping orchestrate a local effort to sew skirts for protesters in Standing Rock, North Dakota. (Supplied)
Cardinal said the group chose to sew skirts because of their cultural significance to many Indigenous women, although their role in Indigenous culture has been disputed by some who seem them as a vestige of colonialism.

Seamstresses plan to craft the skirts out of flannel and fleece so they can be pulled on over winter clothes and will keep their wearers warmer.

Cardinal said protesters also need more expensive supplies including solar panels and winter coats, but "not everybody can pitch in in that way."

"This is what I can help with. I can help facilitate women and get supplies and start this and send them down to Standing Rock," she said.

"Even if they get shipped down there and women don't wear them, even that gesture, as small a gesture as it is, will make them feel loved and supported, and that's our goal."

Donations, support welcome

Cardinal said the issues at play at Standing Rock are universal, and compared the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline to Manitoba protests over the Energy East Pipeline.

"This isn't just an Indigenous issue, this isn't just a brown issue, this is a human issue," she said. "This is a human rights issue."

"We have the same issue happening in our backyard, and at some point we're probably going to have to do the same thing that they're doing in Standing Rock."

Cardinal said the group is asking for donations of flannel and fleece or sewing equipment to make the skirts, and anybody who wants to get involved is welcome to contact her through Facebook.

She said she hopes to get started crafting later this week, and plans to get as much done as possible over a few Saturday sewing sessions.

The group will meet at Thunderbird House, she said.