It has been a busy few months. Intermediate Canyon-Lister Elementary School students within the Aboriginal education program have been learning how to make traditional Ktunaxa moccasins under the guidance of Cecilia Luke.
Together we spent time cutting, sewing by hand and learning the story of the moccasin. We have learned that the moccasin may be the final product that you see and wear, but it is the stitches of patience, perseverance, and friendship that create a moccasin to be worn in celebration of one’s culture. The questions the children ask only contribute to the learning and inspire us all to learn even more.
Making moccasins is really fun. I love the way the leather feels. I love making them.
Since we started making the moccasins, I learned to make the pattern, cut the pieces out of the leather, tack them and now we are sewing them together.
First, we sew the bottoms all the way to the top. Next, we sew the cuff on and then we sew the tongue on. We are using deer hide to make our moccasins.
Mrs. Luke comes to visit and help us make them. One day she brought her moccasins that she made. Some of them have designs on them and some of them have different colours.
Mrs. Luke told us that these moccasins are ones that you can dance in when you go to a powwow. I’m really looking forward to our powwow in May.
My favourite thing about making moccasins is spending time with Mrs. Ewashen and my friends.
— Danielle Palmer (Grade 4)
Making moccasins has been a great journey so far for our program.
We have learned that the thread we are using is called sinew and it’s made from animal muscles. One of the students in the Aboriginal program, our friend Shayna, taught us that if we receive a gift from an animal, then it is important to give something back to Mother Earth in return. We dug up a little bit of soil from outside and put a little piece of leather there and covered it back up. It was our way of giving back.
We also learned from Mrs. Luke that you should have good energy when you make your moccasins so that that you have good energy when you wear your moccasins. All the experiences you have when you make your moccasins become a part of the memories you experience when you wear them — sharing friendship, being happy, being helpful by helping each other to make moccasins.
We also learned that the flap on the back of the moccasins was traditionally there because it would cover up the footprints that you left while walking. We think it is really amazing how clothing and moccasins were made, how beautiful they were and how much time it took to make them.
My favourite thing about making moccasins is how we are learning so much about my culture. My favourite part is hanging out with friends and talking with my friends while we work together. Making moccasins is a great experience — the best.
— Olivia Kettle and Kyla Blackmore (Grade 5)
One thing I have learned while making moccasins is that on the heel there is a little flap and it is used to take away the little bit of track that was left behind.
While I am making moccasins I feel relaxed. I look forward to making them and I hope to put beading on them too.
I have learned that there are lots of different types of moccasins. They are very pretty and I really like the beading, called tracking. Mrs. Luke’s moccasins are very beautiful.
— Gina Runions (Grade 7)