New Brunswick

4 years in the making: re-creation of Wolastoqey regalia revealed at open house

The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design unveiled a re-creation of traditional Wolastoqey regalia, a project that was four years in the making.

Open house at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design features workshops and tours of the college

This replica of Wolastoqey regalia on display at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design was unveiled to the public Saturday during the college's open house. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design unveiled a re-creation of traditional Wolastoqey regalia, a project that was four years in the making.

The beading was the work of artist Amber Richardson, and took her almost two years to complete, Gaffney said. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

The piece, which features an array of ornate beading, was completed with the help of several artists, said Charles Gaffney, who oversees the aboriginal visual arts program at the college, as well as several other courses. 

"The hope today is to share with the broader community a little bit more about traditional Wolastoqey adornment, what we used to wear," he said.

Charles Gaffney, who oversees the aboriginal visual arts program at the college, in the program's studio. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

Gaffney, who is from Tobique First Nation, added that he wanted to highlight what the Wolastoqey wore versus what western First Nations communities wore.

"You see a lot of western influences at our pow-wows, and I want to get us back to… what did the Wolastoqey look like, how are they separate from the Mi'kmaq?," he said.

Trudy Gallagher is the marketing and recruitment coordinator for the college.

Trudy Gallagher, marketing and recruitment coordinator for the college, said the college's focus is on the traditions of First Nations peoples on the east coast, since so much of Canada's understanding of indigenous culture is based on tribes in the west. 

"So much of Canada tends to focus on west coast culture, totem poles and dream catchers, things that have no basis and didn't have any origin on the east coast," she said.

"So we really want to focus on the first nation peoples who were here and what they actually did and what was their livelihood." 

College opens its doors to the public 

The unveiling took place during an open house Saturday which gave the public and potential a students a chance to explore the campus and get a taste of life as an artist. 

Student Elsa Valinas demonstrates how to make clay pottery during an open house at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design on Saturday. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

The school usually holds two open houses a year, but this was the first time it also offered free workshops, said Gallagher.

The idea was to show people that art and design are accessible, and something that they could do themselves, she said.

A studio in the college's fashion and design program, featuring an historic replica of a design from the 1880s. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

"That way, you feel like, 'Oh maybe I could do this, maybe I could be comfortable here," she said, adding that registration for the workshops filled up quickly.

Tracy Austin, a technician in the fashion program, works on a minute cape. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

The college offers programs in ceramics, aboriginal visual arts, digital media, fashion design, graphic design, jewellery/metal arts, photography, and textile design.

Year after year, the fashion design program has been the most popular, with graphic design coming in second, Gallagher said.

Jillian Guitard tries out a virtual reality machine in one of the college's digital media labs. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

The digital media program has been expanding as well, and now features 3D design and game and app development.

"It's very very important to keep up with technology and what's happening so we can give students a choice, she said.