Walking With Our Sisters: Native American Beadwork to Honor the Lives of Women

Oct 28, 2013

We all know about how beads have the power to heal, to tell stories, and to enrich our lives through the meditative nature of off-loom bead-weaving. Walking With Our Sisters, a commemorative art installation that has been traveling throughout the United States and Canada, was created to honor the lives of more than 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Many of these cases have been largely ignored by the media and inadequately investigated by law enforcement, leaving the families to deal with their grief and very few answers.

The project was conceived by Christi Belcourt of Ontario, Canada. She wanted to create an art installation to honor the lives of these missing and murdered Indigenous women while raising awareness. In June of 2012, she issued a call to anyone interested in creating a pair of beaded moccasin tops to be a part of the exhibit. Each pair of moccasin tops was beaded to honor an aspect of the lives of these women -- they were mothers, sisters, wives, grandmothers, and friends. Their disappearance leaves a void in both their families and their communities. The moccasins were left unfinished to symbolize the unfinished lives of the missing women they were created to honor.

In the end, over 1,700 beaded moccasin tops were created by men, women, and children from both Canada and the United States, and donated to the exhibit. The moccasin tops are displayed in a large floor installation, where viewers remove their shoes and walk along a piece of cloth as they view the unfinished moccasins. Walking With Our Sisters is an entirely crowd-funded project, from the artists who donated time and materials to create the beaded moccasin tops to the transportation and bookings of the exhibit in galleries throughout the United States and Canada.

Walking With Our Sisters is now booked in over 25 galleries throughout North America, showing until 2019. You can see Walking With Our Sisters at the First Nations University Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada) from November 4, 2013 until December 20, 2013; and at the G'zaagin Art Gallery in Parry Sound,  Ontario from January 1 until January 31, 2014. (You can find the full exhibit schedule on the Walking With Our Sisters website.)


Experience for yourself the power and healing that can come only from time spent beading. Stock up on your favorite beading projects in the Beading Daily Shop. Whether you make them for yourself or to give as a holiday gift, you'll be sharing the unique power of beads.

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

Laurel B wrote
on Nov 2, 2013 5:35 PM

Jennifer, thank you so much for posting this.  I am a Canadian living in Europe and had not heard of this project.  Beading truly can be a practice of education, healing and mindfulness.  Om mani padme hum.

BleuEdee wrote
on Nov 3, 2013 6:57 AM

Thank you for writing this.  I had no idea this was happening.  Thank you for getting the word out.  I want to help and the information in your article will get me to the right people.  The beading and crafting community is a supportive and caring group.  I hope they continue to put the word out there and continue to create in order to generate support and awareness.  Thank you so much!  Bless you!

dbkat wrote
on Nov 6, 2013 1:04 AM

Truly, this speaks to all of us at so many levels.  I want to do something and thankyou for the information...Beading speaks all languages to all of us...God Bless you and your efforts. Kathrine V