Niska beadwork stitches relationships together

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The Niska Artisans cooperative, operating for the past seven years in Timmins, Ont., launched a beadwork display at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario complex at 50 Kent Avenue in Kitchener on Sept. 11.

Niska, which means “Canada goose” in Cree, was the name taken by the artisans group, whose mandate is to educate, supplement the income of more than 30 indige-nous artisans and their families, and preserve a way of life for the communities along the west coast of James Bay. Seven of the artisans have their work on display at 50 Kent.

The cooperative is supported by MCC Ontario, the Ojibway/Cree Cultural Centre in Timmins, the Mushkegowuk Centre and the Timmins North Friendship Centre.

At the launch, Lyndsay Mollins Koene, coordinator of MCC Ontario’s Aboriginal Neighbours Program, described how this support was part of MCC Ontario’s larg-er work to support indigenous people in Ontario. On top of its wide-ranging mandate that includes advocacy, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, clean water and housing projects in the north, a program to improve electrical efficiency in communities, sustainable food solutions, material resources, and connecting aborigi-nal and settler people, the direct sale of goods supports artisans to stand on their own feet.

Mollins Koene was accompanied to the opening by Josephine Sutherland, one of the artisans.

--Posted Sept. 24, 2014

Josephine Sutherland shows off a small purse at the Sept. 11 launch of the sale of Niska Artisans beadwork products at the MCC Ontario complex in Kitchener.

Niska Artisans member Josephine Sutherland deftly works on a small purse.

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