Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wearing Traditions, Well Attended

Wearing Traditions took place at the West Vancouver Museum on August 12 as part of the Harmony Arts Festival. The event was a huge success, attracting many people from the community of West Vancouver. Those in attendance had the rare opportunity of enjoying the rich traditions of the local First Nations people through traditional dance, contemporary fashion and art.

"Wearing Traidtions: fantastic event, very interesting and informative. And a well-thought out, very well-presented accompanying exhibit. I really appreciate the point of view from which the history and life of this culture [Squamish/Coast Salish Nation] is presented, preserving its integrity and honour. Thoroughly enjoyed it." -- anonymous, comment book.

William Nahanee drums a legend to life.

Members of the Sna7em dance group transform into eagles during a dance.

The public is invited to join.

Pam Baker's models take a walk down the red carpet runway. Her company "Touch of Culture" centres on the principle of providing people with the opportunity to explore how modern style can be combined with traditional symbols.

Tracy Williams (Sesemiya) enlightens the crowd on the time-honoured tradition of basket weaving.

Rick Harry (Xwa lack tun) talks about the 30 foot long dugout canoe that he carved together with his friends and family.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

West Vancouver Museum finds itself in the North Shore News

Traditional Designs

Diana Szpotowicz, North Shore News
Published: Friday, August 10, 2007

WHEN creating her clothing, Tracy Williams doesn't use typical materials such as cotton, Lycra, or nylon.

Instead, she uses cedar bark and duck down to create traditional First Nations pieces.

Sesemiya (her First Nations name) is part of the Squamish Nation and thinks it's important to create traditional clothing so that those skills can be passed on to future generations. She has also practised basket weaving for about 11 years.

"Some of the clothing I create is made out of cedar bark," explains Williams. "You have to gather it in the springtime and then let it dry for about a year, and that gets all of the water and moisture out. Then once you've dried it for a year, you have to take the time to pound it to make it soft and pliable and then you can weave it together."

One of the pieces that Williams has made is a traditional cape with duck down, wool and cedar all woven together. The cape also has an accompanying woven headband adorned with white wool, and a belt made out of yellow cedar that is twisted together to make a strong rope, with shells hanging down for decoration. Williams says that so far she has made one cape.

"It's a lot of work," she says. "It takes probably about 30 hours just to pound the cedar bark. It's not something that you would make a hundred of. I've made other types of cedar bark capes with a beaver pelt. It keeps you warm and is soft and adds to the cape itself."

Williams says she likes to work with mostly traditional types of materials. "That's why we're using the duck down and the beaver pelt. I find there's a lot of power and strength in those materials."

Williams also creates traditional hats for both men and women such as a rounded one that is classically Coast Salish. She also finds creative ways to incorporate new designs such as a star design from one of her grandmother's baskets.

"A lot of times I'll use a lot of different materials," she explains, "maybe red cedar, maybe yellow cedar, bear grass, dyed colours. A lot of times I'll adorn it with eagle feathers or a little bit of leather."

Williams says her hats are perfect for dancing, for ceremonial purposes, and are used for spiritual protection. Williams has taken lessons from many teachers and in turn teaches her own children her skills. She takes them to gather the cedar with her "so the kids will grow up with it, knowing it all their lives," she says.

Williams will give a cedar bark weaving demonstration on Sunday, Aug. 12, at the West Vancouver Museum, from 3 to 5 p.m., as part of the Harmony Arts Festival.

"I'm really looking forward to having an opportunity to share with all sorts of people who are interested in basketry, in weaving, in traditional materials, in our traditional Squamish culture," she says.
Image above courtesy of North Shore News.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wearing Traditions

Ets7utsis telh tim’á-chet


Sunday August 12, 11-5 pm

The West Vancouver Museum, in partnership with the Squamish Nation, is offering a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy the rich clothing traditions of the local First Nations people through traditional dance, contemporary fashion and art. This special Harmony Arts Festival event at the West Vancouver Museum on Sunday August 12th will include Sna7em dance group’s cultural performance, aboriginal designer Pam Baker’s fashion show, and weaving demonstration by Squamish artists Tracy Williams and Keith Nahanee.

Stitúyntm Enduring Traditions Exhibition
The West Vancouver Museum invites you to explore Enduring Traditions and experience the artistic expression of the Squamish people who utilize unique design elements and composition to create striking masterworks. This exhibition brings together historic and contemporary objects and images from both private and museum collections, offering an opportunity to appreciate treasured objects on public display for the first time.

Dance Performance by Sna7em
1 pm

The Sna7em dance group of the Skxwe7mesh Nation brings Squamish family histories, songs, legends and dances to life with their energetic performances. The name Sna7em is derived from the Squamish word representing the power, strength and energy of the Thunderbird. Members of Sna7em range in age from 4 to 65 and perform dances handed down through the generations. The Sna7em dance group provides a glimpse into their culture through singing, drumming and dancing.

Fashion Show by Pam Baker
2 pm

First Nations fashion designer Pam Baker blends traditional aboriginal designs into her contemporary clothing. Her company “Touch of Cult
ure” centres on the principle of providing people with the opportunity to explore how modern style can be combined with traditional symbols. A fashion show of Pam Baker’s design will be accompanied by drumming and singing by William Nahanee of the Squamish Nation.

Cedar-bark Weaving Demonstration by Tracy Williams

Tracy Williams (Sesemiya) of the Squamish Nation is an accomplished weaver who learned basket weaving from her grandmother and many other First Nations people along the Northwest Coast. Tracy says “I feel very honoured to carry on the teachings of our Ancestors and love to spend time harvesting Cedar, digging for roots, and creating clothing, hats, and basketry. My greatest accomplishment will be to ensure that my children learn how to weave, so that this knowledge will survive and thrive for many generations to follow.”
Blanket Weaving Demonstration by Keith Nahanee

Weaving continues to hold both symbolic and artistic value among the First Nations people and beyond. Squamish artist Keith Nahanee, who taught himself how to carve and weave, will demonstrate his skills in the art of Salish blanket weaving and share his passion in weaving. His creativity and respect for ancestors show through in his sophisticated weaving designs. Keith says “Everything I do, I am meant to do it. I was meant to carve and weave. I carry on what my ancestors did. I believe everything is intended.”

Do not miss this special afternoon event at the West Vancouver Museum and discover the traditions behind the celebrated art, dance, and fashion of the Coast Salish First Nations people.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Odlum Brown, Penny Mitchell of RE/MAX Masters Realty of West Vancouver and the North Shore News for this event.

Thanks to our sponsors, admission to the Wearing Traditions event is free.

Please note: the event date changed from July 28 to August 12.

Top photo: Pam Baker's design showing paddles

Middle image: Pam Baker's conceptual drawing

Bottom photo: Bullrush Gathering, 2006 Tracy Williams