I designed this pair of slipper style moccasins for a friend of mine, Stephanie. When someone asks me to do a pair for them, I like to know what colour preferences they have, whether or not they want a fur trim, what kind of fur they like, etc. This way I can better personalize the pair. Well, when I asked Stephanie what colours she favoured, she didn't respond with "blue" or "purple". Her response was that her family was from Ireland and Scotland.
And so, I decided to design her a pair that acknowledged her family history. Given that my Anishinabeg ancestors designed their beadwork from flora and fauna found in our home territories, I did some research on plants that are significant to Stephanie's ancestral territories. Moving beyond any official "State" flower that one typically associates with these countries (Scottish thistle, clover) I decided on a plant called Cloudberry. Cloudberry is indigenous to northern parts of Europe and is also found in northern Canada. It is likely that Stephanie's ancestors harvested this berry.
The plant is growing away from Stephanie to acknowledge her new role as a mother-one who carries life inside her, brings life into the human world, and then looks after it.
The mocs are now en route to Stephanie and I hope that she likes them. I also wonder what she will think about when she looks down at her cloudberries. Will she think about her ancestors? Will she think about what roles and responsibilities these men and women carried and how these changed as new settlers in a new foreign territory (Canada?) Will she think about my ancestors and the people who have been making beautiful, practical things from materials indigenous to our land since time immemorial? Will she want to know about how their lives have changed? What will she tell people when they look at her slippers? What will she tell her children?
I hope the mocs fit :)