Métis local connects community through moccasin-making

Written by: Nickita Longman on behalf of SaskCulture | April 2023

Providing a moccasin-making workshop that eliminated barriers to participation, one that was delivered by a member of the local Métis community, and one that had volunteer and community support, was important to Carla Hope, activity organizer and president of Kinistino Metis Local #43.

Last fall, the Métis Local organized a moccasin-making workshop to revitalize cultural teachings and traditions within its community. Hope wanted to ensure that all members were able to participate without barriers. This included providing a space to gather, providing all supplies necessary, and full access to an instructor.

“This project meets our communities’ need for multi-generational interaction and the sharing of traditional skills and knowledge,” Hope says.

Ronda McQuarrie, a local traditional beader, who has led many moccasin-making workshops previously, eagerly joined the project as an instructor and facilitator. “I have a passion for beading and creating cultural wearable art,” she says. “I feel it is important to keep these traditional art forms alive and pass them on to other people.”

The community recognized the importance as well and the workshop filled up quickly hosting 21 participants – the largest group McQuarrie has instructed within her facilitation work. “It was great to see our youth, adults, Elders and non-Indigenous people socializing and creating together.”

Participants were able to work with moose hide, beaver fur and glass seed beads. With the help and guidance of McQuarrie, they were all able to produce a pair of authentic, hand-stitched, traditional Métis, floral-beaded moccasins, created specifically in a Métis beading style.

“The participants really seemed to enjoy the class and were very happy with their completed moccasins,” she says. “I have had a few people ask me questions since about making more moccasins. [There is a] definite interest in participating in future projects like this one.”

As with any successful event, volunteers, also referred to as ‘Helpers’ in Indigenous communities, played a big role in the delivery of the moccasin-making workshop. McQuarrie says that, the helpers for an event, such as the beading workshop, are largely family and relatives of members of the local who regularly donate their time for community gatherings and events. “Most of this is very informal,” she explains, “and if there is a need for something to get done, they just seem to step up and do it.”

Furthermore, McQuarrie shares, that she is also a volunteer. Her knowledge and skill-set to refine beadwork and moccasin-making, as well as the preparation involved to facilitate, are all done on her own time.

With a successful turnout and eager participants, McQuarrie says that many have continued to work on their beading skills outside of the workshop. “They are taking up this art form and embracing this aspect of their culture,” she says. “They are now able to share it with their children and grandchildren. This class could lead to an intergenerational sharing of culture.”

McQuarrie hopes that more projects like this will continue to happen in her community so she can share her gift with others. “I would love to be able to teach a class on [making] gauntlet mitts, and continue to teach different beading techniques to the community.”

This project received support through the Métis Cultural Development Fund, administered by Gabriel Dumont Institute on behalf of SaskCulture, and funded by Sask Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation.

The importance of Big Brothers Big Sisters 

For more than 50 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince Albert has been changing the lives of local youth through the dedication of Saskatchewan volunteers.  

The organization nourishes youth participants through developmental relationships with volunteer mentors. Children apart of the program are provided the space to try new hobbies and develop skills that can help them positively contribute to their community.  

“[Volunteers] are making the future brighter for everyone. They are helping a young person but also strengthening our community, because the youth are our future.”  

Natasha Thomson, the Development Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince Albert

As a recipient of the Sask Lotteries Community Grant Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince Albert funds activities for youth to explore with their mentors and offers opportunities that may not be accessible otherwise. 

“Sask Lotteries Community Grant funding is used to aid in our BIG Fun Program. It allows us to remove barriers for vulnerable children and their families, so they can access healthy, cultural and recreational activities. This is available to all our matches, as well as the families on our waiting list,” said Natasha Thomson, the Development Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince Albert. 

By supporting volunteer-led organizations, the wellbeing of local communities can continue to thrive and expand. The grant prioritizes communities having access to impactful and innovative sport, culture and recreation programs, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.  

“Each time an individual signs up for our program. It changes two lives. The volunteer’s life and the child’s life. We see positive outcomes for both involved.”  

People who volunteer become more than a mentor within the program and take on the role of being a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ figure to the participants. Every relationship built through the program is unique to the match. 

“In recent years we have done a lot of research to come to a greater understanding of why our program works so well. We know that developmental relationships are something that young people need. We have a really focused on helping our volunteers build developmental relationships that help youth thrive.”   

Prioritizing the success rate of compatible matches between youth and their mentor, means connecting youth with a volunteer who shares similar interests. Following the initial match, mentors are trained to support their youth and aid them in cultivating new skills that will empower them moving forwards.  

The benefit of Big Brothers Big Sisters is felt beyond the reach of the children and their mentors, expanding into the community, child’s family as well as the internal structure of the organization.  

“Working here as taught me that relationships are the most important thing in our lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters is important because we teach young people and their volunteers how to have a healthy relationship and help them through the steps of building that together,” explained Thomson. 

The relationships built through Big Brothers and Big Sister interactions are felt in every level of the program. Volunteers and the youth participants are the heart of the organization. 

“[Volunteers] are making the future brighter for everyone. They are helping a young person but also strengthening our community, because the youth are our future.”  

To learn more about the Community Grant Program, visit our Trust Funds & Grants page

National Volunteer Week April 14-20

Saskatchewan’s 330,000 volunteers are a vital part of the foundation that makes up Saskatchewan’s sport, culture and recreation system. From April 14-20, celebrated under the theme of “Every Moment Matters,” volunteers will be recognized nationwide for their contributions. For 50 years, Sask Lotteries has funded volunteer led sport, culture and recreation programs in the province and it is through the contribution of volunteers that we can make a difference.

Sask Lotteries knows that every second a volunteer gives to the community, an innumerable number of individuals feel the impact. As part of the celebration, Sask Lotteries, along with Sask Sport is saying thank you to the volunteers in Saskatchewan, who help make the 12,000 lottery-funded sport, culture and recreation activities possible.

When thanking volunteers on social media, organizations are encouraged to use the hashtags: #NVW2024, #EveryMomentMatters.

For more information on the week and access to National Volunteer Week assets, check out SaskSport.ca

Introducing: Only in Sask

For the first time ever, Saskatchewan residents will have the opportunity to purchase and play a scratch and win lottery ticket that is exclusively available in the province. The highly anticipated $5 ONLY IN SASK ticket will be launched at the 1,000 Lotto Spot retailers across Saskatchewan on February 12.

This exclusive ticket commemorates the 50th anniversary of Sask Lotteries, the long-standing fundraiser that has been dedicated to supporting more than 12,000 sport, culture and recreation groups in Saskatchewan communities since 1974, providing more than $1.4 billion in funding during that time.

That connection is reflected in the ONLY IN SASK ticket’s bold and captivating design, with the icons on the 50th anniversary ticket depicting items related to sport, culture and recreation. The unique icons were even created by lifelong Saskatchewan resident and illustrator Brian Kachur in consultation with Sask Lotteries.

How it works

Prizes range from $5 to the game’s impressive $50,000 top prize, including significant prizes of $1,050 and $5,000. With overall odds of winning any prize at one in 4.12, the ONLY IN SASK ticket offers exciting opportunities for players to win big.

For Saskatchewan residents 18 years and older, the ONLY IN SASK ticket is a reminder of a half-century of making a positive impact on our local communities. Starting February 12, we invite the province to join us in celebrating 50 years of supporting sport, culture, and recreation in Saskatchewan with this exclusive lottery experience.

Sask Lotteries celebrates 50 years of support sport, culture and recreation

Sask Lotteries is celebrating 50 years as the main fundraiser for more than 12,000 sport, culture and recreation groups in communities across Saskatchewan.

Since 1974, lottery sales in Saskatchewan have been used to provide more than $1.4 billion to support athletes from the grassroots level to the international stage, connect youth to artistic experiences, help residents experience the beauty of the parks that cover the province and much more.  

The funding is made possible thanks to a long-standing agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan to direct proceeds from the sale of lottery products to sport, culture and recreation organizations.

“Sask Lotteries funding has touched every community across Saskatchewan during the last 50 years,” said Bill Kinash, Chair, Sask Sport and Sask Lotteries volunteer-led Board of Directors. “Almost everyone I speak to has seen their lives positively impacted by this fundraiser. We cannot wait to see what the next 50 years will bring.”

Throughout 2024, Sask Lotteries will celebrate its rich history in the province and share the stories of the beneficiaries of this fundraiser on its website and social media through winning numbers. Some of these winning numbers include celebrating the 196 Saskatchewan athletes who have attended the Olympic and Paralympic Games since 1976, multiple opportunities for cultural activities create over 1.6 million participants annually and the over 430 regional and community park spaces across the province. The 1,000 retailers across the province will also be celebrated for their part in the lottery sales that help generate the distributed funds.

Sask Lotteries has a humble beginning.  

To help fundraise against the rising costs of amateur sport, Sask Sport, a volunteer-led organization, wanted to run a lottery. To be granted the lottery licence by the Government of Saskatchewan, founding volunteers Cas Pielak and Joe Kanuka agreed to sign a promissory note to help start a lottery fundraising program. The first lottery in Saskatchewan was a success and eventually led to the Western Canada Lottery Corporation being established.  In 1974, it was determined that the funds would be placed into the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund and would be distributed to sport, culture and recreation groups as designated by the Government of Saskatchewan.

This arrangement remains, 50 years later.

Renewed lottery agreement benefits Saskatchewan communities

This afternoon, the Government of Saskatchewan, Sask Sport, SaskCulture and the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association signed a renewed lottery distribution agreement, continuing a longstanding and successful partnership.

The renewed agreement guarantees that proceeds from lottery ticket sales will continue to support sport, culture and recreation across the province for the next six years. Saskatchewan has authorized lottery tickets to be used as a dedicated fundraiser for sport, culture and recreation since 1974.

“Lottery funding ultimately touches every person in our province, whether it’s getting active in sports and recreational activities, experiencing the creative arts, or participating in cultural events that celebrate our diversity,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross said. “These programs are made possible through our partners and a vast network of community volunteers, who deliver experiences that help make Saskatchewan the best places to live, work and raise a family.”  

Funding from Sask Lotteries benefits over 12,000 sport, culture and recreation groups throughout the province. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, approximately $60 million from the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund was granted to organizations across Saskatchewan.

“On behalf of Sask Sport and its volunteers, I am grateful for the continued partnership of a lottery agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan,” Sask Sport Chair Michael Rogers said. “As a parent and participant in sport, every day I see how the funds generated through the agreement benefit Saskatchewan residents and positively impacts communities. A multi-year agreement gives stability for planning for all beneficiary groups to continue creating opportunities that make Saskatchewan vibrant for everyone.”

“Lottery funding is so important to ensuring that cultural activity adds to the quality of life of individuals and families in this province,” SaskCulture Board Chair Jan Seibel said. “From attending a musical to learning a traditional dance, or joining a writing group, or perhaps, exploring a museum, many people look forward to accessing cultural programs, events and services as a regular part of their lives.  As a whole, these types of activities help shape the Saskatchewan experience.  We are very pleased with the renewal of this agreement, and government’s commitment to helping ensure that an even greater diversity of peoples can engage in cultural and creative pursuits that contribute to a culturally vibrant province.”

“The government’s continued support of recreation, culture, and sport speaks volumes about the value created by our industries’ collective work,” Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association Board President, Jody Boulet said that. “We are honoured to be tasked with enhancing quality of life for Saskatchewan people through parks and recreation for another six years and beyond.”

The agreement allows continued investments in strategic priority areas, such as engaging diverse and equity-deserving populations; supporting access to safe and welcoming sport, culture and recreation communities; and encouraging well-being and active lifestyles.