Along with their homes, pets and workplaces, many First Nations families lost even more when a wildfire devastated the southern village of Lytton late last month.
“Sacred items were destroyed,” said sewist Nadine Baker.
Baker, who is of Kwagiulth, Squamish and Cree ancestry, owns a mobile store called Threads of Heritage, located a 63-kilometre stretch north from the ashy ruins, in Lillooet.
For people of the Nlakapamux Nation, living on lands in and around Lytton, the blaze destroyed cultural relics including hand-made drums, headdresses, eagle fans, powwow jewelry and priceless regalia.
“Many dancers, artists, beaders and those who sew for a living have lost their entire supply,” Baker mourned.
As a sewist, Baker first made outfits for traditional powwows in 2001 and has crafted more than 3,000 pieces with her business.
Now she’s collecting donations to provide displaced residents mobile sewing kits so that they can begin to replace many significant items that were decimated by wildfire.
“They’ll be able to take the kits with them wherever they go,” Baker said, mentioning evacuees currently spread out in shelters and homes as far west as Abbotsford.
Baker has currently gathered six large boxes of supplies, several cash donations and a sewing machine for the cause.
For the grieving, “sewing and creating is typically one way we cope,” said Baker. “Nlakapamux Peoples no longer have this craft to fall back on for their mental health.”
At traditional powwows, community members dress in vibrant colours and connect with their culture through music and dance.
“Their families stand in the crowd and watch their children with pride,” Baker lauded.
People can email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail beads, thread, tools, vinyl, pellon, gems, or other craft supplies and sewing machines to Nadine Baker at P.O. Box: 2438 in Lillooet, V0K 1V0 to donate.
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.