Dawson City beading group recruits new heroes

Students of the Grade 7 First Nations studies class are creating pins to hand out to school staff and front-line workers.

'It's incredible watching these students go through the journey,' says teacher Melissa Flynn

Students of the grade seven First Nation Studies class at Robert Service School holding the Fireweed pins they made in class. (Submitted by Melissa Flynn)

Heroes come in all sizes.

Students of Robert Service School's Grade 7 First Nations studies class are the newest members of the Fireweed Heroes beading group.

The Fireweed Heroes have been showing support for frontline workers since the beginning of the pandemic by sewing fireweed flower pins and distributing them throughout the territory. They also send materials to people interested in sewing pins to hand out to their own communities.

The class of eight students, with the help from their First Nations studies teacher Melissa Flynn, each made their own fireweed pin to hand out as a show of support to those that continue to work on the front lines in the community.

"We're making these pins for the people who helped us during the pandemic and [are] risking their lives to help others," Alexa Nagano, a student in the group, told CBC. "If it weren't for them we wouldn't be doing school work right now, so we wanted to give back and do this".

"It's nice to walk in to a place like a restaurant or hospital, or basically anywhere, and see people wearing them," said Tigoni Nunan, another student in the class. "It shows our community can really get together and do stuff together."

All of the pins that have been finished are sealed in Ziploc bags for two weeks before they can be handled.

A handful of pins made by students that will be distributed to school staff. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

'We take care of each other'

Staff at Robert Service School said there was a lot of anxiety about going back to school during the pandemic, so they wanted to start the new school year with a very clear and powerful message: Hǫzǫ łëkʼä̀trʼë̀nòcha — meaning, "we take care of each other."

Flynn said her class wanted to understand what that really means — so she invited Jania Popadynec to talk to the class.

Shortly after the visit, the class started beading.

The students plan to give their pins to the school's janitors, cooks and teachers..

"We've given it to our teacher and he said that this is [worth] more than a hundred thank yous," Katie McLeod-Weirda, another student in the group, told CBC.

Despite this being the first time many of the students have done a project like this, they all agree that they'd like to make more pins.

"I always tell these kids they are the wave of the future and they can move mountains if they put their minds to it," said Flynn.