Moccasin making workshop maintains traditions

IMG_1499[1].JPGKasabonika Lake News
Tyance Anderson
February 1, 2017

In Nellie Semple’s home, five Ontario Works clients gathered around her dining room table to learn about moccasin making last week. Nellie and an elder named Irene Semple are teaching the clients to make their own moccasins and mittens out of leather.

“They want to learn,” said Nellie. “And also if they know how to make things, they can make things for their family, or for themselves, or they can sell their crafts and make some money.”

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Elder Irene Semple teaching about moccasins

Nellie was taught by her mother and sister to do beading, moccasins and mitten making. Elder Irene was taught by Nellie’s mother. She even mentioned that they used to make dolls with leftover scraps. The other way that Irene learned was during ladies craft nights at other people’s houses. People don’t really do that here anymore but some of the ladies present said they might if they had time.

Nellie also said that before the Internet, people used to make their own moose hide but now people just order moose or deer hides to make their moccasins online. Irene knows how to make hide, but hunters no longer bring it back with them, and it isn’t really done in Kasabonika anymore.

Nineteen year old Adam Anderson was finishing up his gauntlet style mittens at the workshop.

“I’m doing this to learn, “ said Anderson. “So I can pass it down to the next generations”

Passing on tradition is why Ontario Works offers cultural programming says Employment Coordinator John Semple.

“It gives them an idea they can learn new things, or things that we’ve lost,” said Semple. “It’s nice to have tradition maintained, have our younger generation keep going with lessons passed down.”

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A client’s moccasins halfway done, with beaded vamps
OW have offered fish netting, snaring and trapping before, and aim to do it again this year. They are also planning on having a beading workshop for the beaded vamps that people can put on their moccasins and mittens from February 13-15.

It took about three days to finish their moccasins. Ontario Works will offer more workshops like this in the future. Interested clients should contact the OW office.

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