Button Blanket Project brings community together

The Button Blanket Project is a chance for people in the community to spend time together, learning and healing, as they create four beautiful, culturally significant blankets.

It’s a busy night at the Indigenous Perspectives Society, as volunteers create four button blankets.

Laurie McDonald is the Aboriginal Social Worker Instructor at IPS.

“Given the fact that at one part in our history, our blankets, our button blankets, and our ceremonial stuff, we were told to put on the ground…

“What is happening now is a rejuvenation, and a revitalization, of that whole process” explains McDonals.

Barbara Smith is the curriculum developer at IPS, and explains that the Button Blanket Project is sponsored by the Anglican Church.

“Your know, they’re putting effort into trying to do some reconciliation, and to create some community around that, so, it’s been great.”

The Indigenous Perspectives Society works with communities across the province, to foster a deeper understanding of First Nation Cultures.

“Yes, we talked about the ’60’s scoop” explains McDonald, “the residential schools, and the Indian Act, colonization…

“And all those other things which impacted us as First Nation People, so part of that is our healing process.

“But in order for us to do this, we have to look at what is positive, what is great…

“And there’s a lot of great stuff out there in our communities, lots, and part of that is these beautiful blankets that we’re making!”

That feeling of pride and happiness in the Project is echoed by the volunteers in the room.

Volunteers like Libby McMinn.

“I feel really honoured to be part of creating something like this” says McMinn.

“To take part in something that has great significance for First Nations people, and so to be invited into that process is a very special thing.”

Volunteer Addie Murphy says “it’s from a little bit of a different culture than I’m from, so it’s good to learn about it.”

Barbara Smith proudly waves her arms across the walls of the large IPS room.

“We’re going to have [the blankets] hanging here in the classroom. This is where we do all our training. We train social workers who work with delegated aboriginal agencies.”

Laurie McDonald also looks around the room, filled with volunteers busily tracing, cutting, and sewing the blankets.

“Look around here” says McDonald. “These are non-indigenous people who come together as a community…and for them to be part of this process, who may or may not have ever done a button blanket in their life…[is wonderful.]”

The group plans to dance the blankets out on June 21, National Aboriginal Day.