Friday, November 9, 2012

Centennial Progress-Wet'suwe'ten Family Home-Updated

Working on a quilt that celebrates the history and development of a community in British Columbia cannot be complete without the recognition of the first indigenous people who called the Bulkley Valley their home, their territory.

I'm talking about our Aboriginal neighbors, the proud Wet'suwe'ten people, who without their peaceful acceptance, the Town of Smithers would not be here today.

These lovely people are the original inhabitants of this country. The Wet'suwe'ten Nation still populate a large area from the modern day communities of Hazelton to Burns Lake and beyond, they live, fish, go to school and are growing as a nation.  The modern day name of Wet'suwe'ten really means "People of the Wa Dzun Kwuh River" and different spellings of this name, history and so much more, can be found on Wikipedia's site here.

The elders of the Office of the Wet'suwe'ten, who have an office building in Smithers, graciously gave me permission to use their logo in the Smithers 2013 Centennial quilt. 

You'll read about the activities of these vibrant and kind people.
 My interactions with the Wet'suwe'ten people have always been productive and amusing. I realize how strange our western, European customs must be for them to witness as we go through our lives. We live side by side. In fact, my home property is within the Wet'suwe'ten nation and I have many friends who are Wet'suwe'ten and I'm proud of that connection. I trust it and want to improve our connectedness, through this event.

Visit their official site Office of the Wet'suwe'ten

These are photographs of the photos in the book, Smithers Swamp to Village, written by R. Lynn Shervill. I have loaned a copy from the Town of Smithers. I thank the work of R. Lynn Shervill on this project, otherwise, I'd  have little access to our history since our local museum has begun charging fee's for research done in the local Museum archives. I  think charging for simple photos for a project like this short sighted, and is counterproductive to good community relations.
This brings me to a lovely development. I'm really proud to have been the recipient of a great idea. 
Charrine Naziel Lace of Moricetown is a bright eyed, wonderful kind woman who suggested that a block be made depicting the original people in the town site of Smithers. I have worked, researched and designed a part of the quilt to include this scene.

It all started here.

This was Charrine Naziel Lace's idea for a block. I loved the idea instantly, but then came another revision. I've become even more adaptable as this project goes on. I suggest to anyone else thinking about a Centennial Project like this, please credit this blog for coming into a new area by including individual art pieces on canvas in a quilt. I takes loads of patience and endurance as the changes keep coming in waves. I thank Linda Stringfellow, Perry Rath, Anne Havard, Nicole Tessier, Martha Wertz and Todd Lace for their inspirations entrusted to me. 

I carry on with time passing as if a ticking clock counts down the time left for completion.

The photo above is Charrine's father, shown  here at a local mine in the early days of mining in Smithers. Aborginal people have adapted and prospered, but many improvements still need to come.

I hope that my artwork of this welcoming people can do justice to their part of the story.

 I  began with a simple sketch on muslin, then began adding, shaping, cutting and rethinking the whole process as I went. Its not easy, providing that creative expression, I so dearly enjoy from the art of quilting. I glued down the simple pieces at the beginning, then a bright idea  happened: I remembered fusible webbing for the remainder and I must admit, fusing is much easier and allows for instant results.

This scene will depict a rough log home, moose hide on the doorway, only one window for smoke to escape and fresh air to get inside, the roofing is also rough log slabs, sometimes with several layers to shed the rain and snow" This type of housing according to Charrine was very common at the time Smithers started up. 
For more information on housing, visit here.

I'm not by any means an expert on what an early home of a Wet'suwe'ten family would look like, but I have interpreted the pioneer/primitive spirit of Aboriginal families around the time that the valley was visited by Col. Charles S. Bulkley, who scouted the new telegraph line for the Western Union Telegraph Company. I trust the inspiration of Charrine.

Many things have changed in the valley since then, some good and some  bad. We know the truth of our Canadian History in terms of residential schools, for one thing.  I wanted to honor the unique, indigenous people who were here, living happily, when suddenly white people began being seen within the Wet'suwe'ten territory.
I understand the Town of Smithers is built on a swamp. It must have been drained at some point. But our first home 1st. Ave had the most wonderful, rich, peat soil of the swamp. We had fantastic garden on that property. The  best soil I'd ever seen.

 I used glue, fusibles, fabric, thread and hand threads to create the scene with a light hand of respect. Straight machine stitch in combination with varying lengths of zig zag. I think of Nadia and what would she do? How would she recreate the scene in cloth?

I'd love to know for sure, if I have the scene in some sense of realism. Is it correct? The entire quilt is a work in progress. It calls me to wake with delight in the middle of the night. It speaks it own unique language. I've always worked on quilts and they do speak to me, they tell me when their done!

The roof begins to take shape. Then onto the trees..... it goes. A lot more work is to be done here.

I know that Asian, Italian, European, Brits, Scots and many others came wandering into this special valley. Many came with dreams of new gold and ore mining sprang up, forestry companies 'found' trees to cut, haul and sell. Money was being made in the valley and it caught the attention of the BC Government.

"In finally realizing the potential of the valley, the provincial government designated 24,000 acres on the east side of the Bulkley River as its first settlement area in the province. The designation, made under terms of teh B.C.'s new Land Settlement Act, included existing farms, soldier's holdings and previous Boer War scrip, accounting for about 8,000 acres. the remaining 16,000 acres were to be divided inbot 160 acre farms, thereby accommodating up to 100 new families." quoted from Smithers Swamp to Village by Lyn R. Shervill.

When I read this book, I begin to see the invisible story inside the story of Smithers. Much has been done in the past to reflect this change to the countryside and culture of the Wet'suwe'ten nation. I see this having made progress and threats that potentially place us all at risk, like pipelines bring us closer together in collaboration across the very countryside we all hold dear to our heart. Smithers Town Council has done much to build bridges between white and Indigenous people, this continues...

I attempted to show how approachable and friendly I continue to find Indigenous people. 

This is my week on the Centennial Quilt.

Thanks for leaving a comment! :)


Monday, November 5, 2012

Centennial Quilt Progress

Wow, three weeks have gone by since I last posted, the time is flying by so quickly.This is what keeps me going!!

I try really hard to live by this creed of Ghandi's. It has a prominent place in my sewing room. It gives me hope, when I have to make decisions that are not popular with others or have to brave ahead with only closest of friends behind me.
Please don't think that making a Centennial Quilt is like my own private thing. Its strange, in my own home turf, few quilters have come forward to participate.

I'm so glad that I have my good friend Nola to rescue me from the toil of the entire project on my shoulders. 

Thank you Nola, you are a trooper good friend!

I was chatting online with a friend of mine who lives in Grand Forks, BC. Our conversation made me think of the people that participated with the 1897-1997 quilt for Grand Forks. I was the coordinator of that quilt, but in the end, decided to have my name left off the brass plaque that was made for the quilt. This quilt was organized through Sunshine Valley W.I.

 The whole project is in the care of City of Grand Forks. 

If you have a  blog, that's even better then we can link up? Please pass this on to anyone who has been involved in a centennial quilt. I'd love to hear from you and how things went, who was involved and photos too?

contact me at carli the quilter (at) gmail (dot) com

The background color of the quilt will be black. Terri at BV Cleaners has begun the very precise work of machine embroidery for the 'Town of Smithers" and lower in the quilt, "1913 - 2013" Gold colored thread is being used for this and it will be awesome, Terri is so talented.

I intend to embellish the black background with hand embroidery for our beloved Grand Trunk Railway, now CN Rail. What would a centennial quilt be without this very important part of our history? Just the train you see here below will be used, not the 60 part of the logo. This logo was done by Terry Kline. Thanks to you, Terry, where ever you are.

The train in this logo done by a local artist I'm sure, comes directly from the book "Smithers Swamp to Village"

I keep plodding along, see the Babine Range taking shape here in the photo above. I've been so inspired my Monika of My Sweet Prairie blog and by City Wilderness quilter who share their beautiful artwork for the world to see. They inspire me!

But OMG, suddenly I'm overcome with the idea that people will think my beginner work of thread art is anywhere near as good as these two ladies!! Trust me it won't be, but I'll do my best. I'm always up for a challenge, I think challenges keep you young!

 In between work on the centennial quilt, I take break and want to finish some other projects I've had the go for a while now, such as my jewelry quilt. Yes, that's right, I made a quilt to will hang on the wall and be my quick and easy spot for putting away my jewelry. I'm sure, you'll see a tutorial for this jewelry quilt here on my blog really soon!

 Then my husband loves his Canadian Birds Quilt so much that he suggested I make one for myself. Seeing that he's not giving up ownership of this very lovely Stack and Whack Dresden Plate quilt. I started playing around with the many dresden plates already done to see what I can come up with for this new quilt for me. I started with this one below.

 I'm not sure though, any thoughts or suggestions you might have would be much appreciated.

Then as Christmas is coming, I have started into my annual 
"Girlfriends are Forever" round of hand made gifts.

This little table runner will find a new home this Christmas! This was so fun to make, I'm going to be offering this as a fund raising quilting class for BV Modern Quilters in the new year.

Below, these fat quarters are picked out for a special friend.

Then my ongoing crazy quilts, (sound familiar?)from this one started earlier in the summer with my weekend away at the lake.

This has a tropical feel to it from my standpoint. More on this one in another posting.

Then this green crazy piecing is set for a modern layout, more on this one in progress later.

So when people ask, 'how's things going?" I should just hand out a business card to my blog! I'm busier than a two headed wood pecker at pine beetle killed forest!

Good to connect, thanks so much for  being interested enough in what I'm up to to follow me.


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