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Salish Sea Sentinel | November 16, 2018

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Homalco weaving workshop brings reconnection

Homalco weaving workshop brings reconnection

Clockwise from top left: Malaya Malipitan, Glen Pallen, Marilyn Harry, Cheryl Francis, Rita Pimlott, Vera Peacey, Caroline Francis.

Photos by Todd Peacey

Homalco First Nation’s wellness group practiced twill cedar weaving during a three-day workshop at the community’s cultural centre that wrapped up in late September. 

The group crafted woven handbags under the guidance of instructors Violet Elliott of Snuneymuxw and her husband Joe Elliott of Cowichan Tribes. 

The couple has been weaving for more than two decades, learning from both mentorship and study, and now host community sessions to teach others. Homalco was able to host its workshop after receiving a grant from the First Nations Health Authority. 

Homalco Elder Vera Peacey participated, and said hearing about the process of gathering and prepping cedar brought back memories of her mother, the late basket weaver Irene Joseph.  

“I remember her spending weeks stripping the cedar for the baskets and having it in water,” Peacey shared. 

“That’s what she did in the kitchen — a cup of coffee on the table and a pan of water and a knife. Everything had to be precise.” 

During the workshop, Violet also spoke about the spiritual process of weaving, telling participants to put their hands on the cedar to connect with ancestors. 

“It’s about praying to it, putting your hand on it, it’s about reintroducing it,” she said. 

“Trust the process because it’s in us, it’s who we are as people.”