Metis ALIVE brings Metis culture, dance, music and traditional skills alive in the community and in schools. Owner Felice goes into communities and schools and shares about the vibrant history and culture of Metis people in a multi-sensory and interactive way.
It’s a family operation and their signature item is the “Kicking Capote”— jackets made out of blankets. They also do sets, not just for the jacket but also for mittens, leggings, and a pouch (all hand embroidered!)
Metis ALIVE also sells do it yourself kits, beading kits, and they run workshops, like the one Felice did with me for this video!
“We are always open to communities, libraries, schools, youth programs, or we even go into peoples homes for our workshops,” she tells me.
A capote is a jacket made out of a wool blanket. Felice tells me they were made very popular in the fur trading era. Fur traders, trappers, hunters, voyageurs, would wear these coats, fashioned around the french style coat (capote actually means hood in French).
“These coats are part of Metis history very much so because many Metis were trappers, hunters, voyageurs. This area here now known as Alberta used to be the North West and I like to say that the capote is like the first winter coat, winter jacket of Alberta,” Felice says.
“It’s just like a warm fuzzy hug you just wrap it around you and you’re so cozy.”
Something that has been coming up a lot recently with the rise and popularity of Indigenous artists, is whether it’s appropriate to wear Indigenous-made items.
Lorrie, from the I A M Indigenous Artist Market Collective talks a bit more about that too, but from Felice’s perspective, a capote, and items she makes, are not considered sacred items, and is therefore okay for all to wear.
“Personally, welcome everybody to make a capote, to come to a workshop, learn about the history of the capote, how it’s tied to Metis culture, and wear it very proudly. I think it helps promote and educate and to share the Metis contributions of the North West and of canada. As long as they are wearing it in a respectful way,” Felice says.
“I’m just really excited about this time we live in there are so many opportunities to experience different indigenous traditional skills, material art.”
Appreciation over appropriation is what I AM Indigenous Artist Market Collective is all about.
The collective is a group of about 60 grassroots, Indigenous artists that started as a pop-up tent at a local farmers market and now attends almost every festival and conference in the Edmonton area, with artists going out and teaching about the difference between appreciation and appropriation.
“Our artists are more than just beads and buckskin, we have photographers, graphic artists, performing artists, we have artists that make beauty products, skin care products, we have seamstresses, regalia, modern fashion, we have a lot of traditional arts as well, beadwork, dreamcatchers, regalias, ceremonial clothes, it’s a big mixed bag,” Lorrie with the collective tells me. “Come on out, say tansi, come meet our artists, don’t be afraid to ask questions… we want to engage and tell our story. It’s a beautiful experience to come learn about Indigenous culture and learn about ally ship.”
The I AM Indigenous Artist Market Collective has a permanent space at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market and this summer (2021) was also at the new Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park.
“We’ve had international visitors, local visitors, staycation visitors and we’ve been able to share stories all summer long. It cant get better than that,” Lorrie says.
Lorrie says Indigenous culture is all about storytelling and with each Indigenous art piece, there’s a story.
“It means so much more if you can give a gift and say this is who I got it from, this is the story, their kokum taught them to bead. Every time they take it out they can remember that connection to you and the artist that made it,” Lorrie says.
It was so much fun making capotes with Felice, and learning about the I A M Indigenous Artist Market Collective with Lorrie.
Be sure to watch the video!!!
And go out of your way to find, experience, and support Indigenous artists and makers in the city!
And be sure to subscribe to Travel Alberta’s YouTube Channel for more video ideas to explore the province.
I hope to do more videos with Travel Alberta soon—stay tuned!!
Note: this post is NOT sponsored by Travel Alberta. I’m working with them as a contractor for video production but not for blog / social media (these are just things I’d share about anyway lol).
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