BU beading group returns from Winnipeg to lead Indigenous Awareness Week session

February 12, 2020

A group of people in green t-shirts sit on a stage while audience members watch
Members of Brandon University's beading club present at a beading symposium in Winnipeg.

A unique beading club will provide introductory lessons on Friday as part of Indigenous Awareness Week at Brandon University (BU).

Knowledge keeper Barb Blind will lead the session as the club, which calls itself the BU Beading Babes, teaches the basics of beading from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The activity will take place at the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre in the McKenzie Building.

Founded six years ago, the Beading Babes meet each Tuesday, all year round. Their handiwork can be seen in gifts that are made for BU’s Indigenous graduates each year.

“As far as we know, we’re the only university group of this kind in Canada,” said Cathy Mattes, an Associate Professor in BU’s Department of Visual and Aboriginal Art and the co-ordinator of the group.

“Since we started the group, I can conservatively say that we’ve had at least 100 students and community members take part.”

The Beading Babes have already had a busy month after taking part in a beading symposium in Winnipeg last week after a proposal to present by BU student Justine Hutcheson and alumna Jessie Januska was accepted. They fundraised so that the group of students, Elders and other community members could pay for supplies and the expenses of presenting at the symposium. The Beading Babes presented a beadwork piece that they collectively made, with the hope of later putting the piece on display at BU.

The Winnipeg symposium had a strong Brandon University connection beyond the participation of the Beading Babes, as organizers Fran Hebert-Spence, Albyn Carias and Januska are all graduates of the Visual and Aboriginal Art program at BU. All three have gone on to careers in the arts, and Hebert-Spence, who was the symposium’s main organizer, was recently hired for a coveted position as the curatorial assistant for the National Gallery of Canada’s Indigenous arts curator in Ottawa.