Celebrating Indigenous Culture: NBCC hosts Ribbon Skirt Making Workshop

In a colourful display of cultural celebration, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) recently hosted a Ribbon Skirt Making Workshop at its Miramichi Campus. The workshop took place over two evenings in November, bringing together students and staff to learn the art of creating traditional Indigenous garments. 

“Ribbon Skirts are a unique and beautiful expression of Indigenous culture representing womanhood and strength,” said Brenda Goodine, an Indigenous Student Success Coach at NBCC. “Our goal with this workshop was to provide a hands-on learning opportunity where members of our College community could learn from and connect with local Indigenous artisans.” 

The workshop was led by local business owner, seamstress, and residential school survivor Rita Martin of the Natoaganeg First Nation. In 1996, Rita began quilting as a hobby before formally opening Baby Barn Fabrics in 2008 using funds she received from the Residential School Survivor Settlement. Today, Rita has grown her business, and frequently hosts ribbon skirt making and regalia classes at her shop and in the community. 

“Teaching others is what I do here in the shop, so I was thrilled when I received the invitation from NBCC to facilitate a workshop, it’s an important part of reconciliation,” said Rita. “I was so impressed with the participants and their work; I was proud of those young people.” 

Brenda Daigle, an instructor in NBCC’s Justice Studies Corrections and Police Foundations programs was excited to participate in the Ribbon Skirt Making Workshop. 

“Any time I get an invite for additional learning, I am always eager to sign up,” said Brenda. “This experience was something I’ll never forget and stands out as one of the shining moments of my time at NBCC”. 

For Brenda, the workshop presented an opportunity to lead by example, helping her students understand the importance of working towards reconciliation through education and Indigenous cultural teachings.  

“As an ally myself, I want to teach my students what it looks like to be a true ally,” said Brenda. “You can’t just say you’re an ally, you have to be active, you need to stand up, and you need to use your voice.” 

Thursday, January 4th, marks the second annual National Ribbon Skirt Day. This day serves as an opportunity for Canadians to learn and celebrate Indigenous cultures, traditions, histories, and contributions.  

In recognition of National Ribbon Skirt Day, a celebration featuring song, dance, and Indigenous teachings will be held at the NBCC Miramichi Campus on Thursday, January 11, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. AST. 

New Brunswick Community College wishes to thank Ann Sylliboy and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey for making this workshop possible through their generous gift of three sewing machines and ribbon skirt and shirt kits. 

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