My ancestors include Marie Louise Riel, aka Chipakijikokwe. She is known for being a mentor and Elder in the life of the young Louis Riel. She was his Aunt, sister to Louis' father. As a result, I grew up hearing stories of how my ancestors knew and lived alongside Louis Riel and even hid him in the "family circle of hiding" from Sir John A MacDonald's soldiers.
Beading is something I started at a young age and have in recent years reawakened the skill. In the 1970's, I remember my cousin and I would exchange letters on different techniques that we were learning. We were teaching each other when there was no one else to ask. Today I watch and learn from others. Then I adapt and incorporate different techniques into my own work. Currently I am enjoying doing a number of pieces in off-loom beading. There is something satisfying and healing about weaving each individual bead into place, one by one. Beading is just one of the skills that I have, but it is the one I've been focusing on the most in recent days.
As well, in the tradition of my 4th Great Grandmother and her humanitarian efforts in her community where she earned the name of "Guardian Angel of the River", I too am active in humanitarian aid in my community. As I learn new skills or reawaken old ones, I love to share with my similarly isolated native community by teaching them cultural skills as well. It is time to reawaken the teachings of our ancestors and make sure the younger generations know and can be proud of their heritage. No longer do we need to hide in the woods. We can stand and be proud to be called Metis!