September 29, 2018
Carrie Allison and Julie Hollenbach
On September 29th, artist Carrie Allison lead a workshop in the Living Room where she introduced the basics of Métis beading to participants and discussed her current collaborative project The Shubenacadie River Beading Project and its sister project Shubie River. This workshop was an opportunity to bring people together through making, inspired by activism and environmentalism. Participants were introduced to beading through the action of beading the shape of the full Shubenacadie River. Beading Shubie aimed to engage participants in conversation about deep connections to land and Indigenous ways of knowing. For Carrie, the power of this work is in its ability to connect people in community through making; she shares, “beading is a mindful, meditative practice that opens the heart through busy hands.” The conflict between Alton Gas and local communities, activists, environmentalists, and Indigenous communities of Mi’kma’ki was discussed during the workshop as participants learned the two-needle stitch and how to apply beads to dark grey stroud material. These important issues were introduced through a focused Indigenous lens.
The Shubenacedie River Beading Project and Beading Shubie are two examples of the community oriented collaborative projects that Carrie has helped to facilitate recently with the aims of raising awareness about Indigenous sovereignty and land rights, and current threats facing the water ecologies of Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia. Carrie describes this work in her artist statement:
“The Shubenacadie River cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia; running from the Minas Basin to downtown Dartmouth. Once used by the Mi’kmaq to traverse the territory for trade and fishing, the government state and Alton Gas are now threating the rivers system and fragile life. Alton Gas proposes to install two salt caverns, which could amount to as many as fifteen, that will store natural gas. These caverns will create huge quantities of salt brine that will be disposed of by dumping it into the Shubenacadie River causing irreversible environmental damage to the rivers ecosystem.”
“The Shubenacadie River Beading Project is an activist/community project, beaded in the company and guidance of the water protectors of the Stop Alton Gas group, their allies, and other members of the community who wish to be involved. This community-based project stands in solidarity with water protectors and the Stop Alton Gas group; who are actively occupying space along the Shubenacadie River to protest the destruction of the rivers’ ecosystem by the environmental threat Alton Gas poses. This beading project is an honouring of the river space and the rivers life system. Many hands join together and bead the space of the river, culminating in a forty-toot beading of the Shubenacadie River. The intention of this project is for participants, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to come together and collectively honour the space of the Shubenacadie River. This is an exercise in building treaty relations between settler and Indigenous nations and humans to mother earth. Group activities, such as this, foster storytelling, sharing, engagement, and collective making activating Indigenous research methodologies. This approach is designed to assist with the group’s purpose in bringing awareness to the cause by involving Nova Scotian communities along with others across the country in the making of this river. When the project is complete I will donate the beaded canvases to the Stop Alton Gas group to do as they please, hopefully to generate funds for the groups continued resistance.”