PEI

P.E.I. Mi'kmaq women learn traditional craft-making

Five women from the Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, P.E.I., say an intensive 18-week training course has allowed them to reclaim part of their ancestral culture.

18-week training focused on traditional skills, business techniques

Virginia Langley says making Mi'kmaq crafts for the first time helped her feel closer to her roots. (François Pierre Dufault/Radio-Canada)

Five women from the Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, P.E.I., say an intensive 18-week training course has allowed them to reclaim part of their ancestral culture.

The women learned to make traditional Indigenous crafts — including moccasins, baskets and dream catchers — in courses taught by elders.

I did not want to go home at the end of the day. I wanted to stay longer.— Virginia Langley

"Large parts of Aboriginal culture have been lost to residential schools. Now we want to provide opportunities for Aboriginal elders to teach traditional crafts to revive it in the community," said facilitator Linda Fraser.

'I'm feeling proud'

Virginia Langley, a member of the Abegweit First Nation, said making Mi'kmaq crafts for the first time helped her feel closer to her roots.

"I'm feeling proud. I can do it," she said.

The activities were organized by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island with funding from the federal and provincial governments.

It was the first time such training has been available to members of the Abegweit First Nation.

"I loved the training. There was a lot of support within the group. I did not want to go home at the end of the day. I wanted to stay longer," said Langley.

She now plans to make crafts and sell them — and hopes to continue learning Mi'kmaq traditions as well.

Business techniques part of training

The training also aimed to teach the participating business techniques so that they can sell their crafts themselves, especially to tourists.

"Tourism is an important industry in Prince Edward Island. If [members of the Scotchfort community] are able to benefit from it, this will improve their quality of life," said Fraser.

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