First Nations Technical Institute recently offered the students in the Personal Support Worker Program and the Mental Health and Addictions Program the opportunity to learn about the art of skirt making from our very own Cultural Advisor, Katsitsiase (Betty) Maracle. The skirt making process began with the students choosing the fabric that best represented who they are. The fabric could then tell the story of their identity and they could proudly display it as they wear their skirts. The students then went through the process of making their own patterns to follow for the sewing stage. The students worked together, and there was a lot of laughter, support, and triumphant moments shared in the room as each student began to overcome the fear of making mistakes.
The Skirt Teaching
The next day Katsitsiase offered the teaching surrounding the importance of skirts in the Haudenosaunee culture. She began by expressing that this teaching was near and dear to her heart and offering prayers and blessings to those that had passed the teaching down to her. She then began to describe how wearing a skirt can transform the way we view ourselves, the way we are viewed by others, and shows our connection to our Mother Earth. When we chose to wear a skirt we are honouring our role as women, and being respectful of all of the responsibilities that our role entails, ultimately we are honouring our place in Creation. We are dressing to show our appreciation for this beautiful life that the Creator has given us. When you put on a skirt, getting ready in the morning becomes a spiritual practice. If you consciously choose to wear something that is representative of who you are and where you come from then you are giving thanks to the Creator for all of the beautiful gifts you’ve been given. The teaching was well received and during circle the students expressed how grateful they were for the shift in perspective that they felt as a result of it. It was a spiritually moving and emotionally fulfilling experience to learn about the importance of the skirt in expressing our gratitude and recognition of our place in Creation.