Karen Buchanan shows off some of the cedar roses made by youth at Changer Makers’ Education Society, (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

Cedar roses woven by youth as a commemorative project

Prince Rupert project to remember MMIW and residential school children

Prince Rupert youth are weaving cedar into roses through a new program at Change Makers’ Education Society.

Individual stems are steadily blooming into bouquets of wooden flowers to be used in a commemorative memorial, Karen Buchanan, Changer Makers’ executive director, told The Northern View.

“Our thought is that we will create a red dress that is symbolic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and adorn it with the roses that represent the children who never made it back from residential schools,” she said.

The workshops are led by Sandra Smith, a First Nations Gitxsan artist, who teaches participants the technique of manipulating cedar bark into creative shapes.

Smith harvests the red and yellow cedar used to weave the flowers herself from the surrounding region, Buchanan said.

The group, which first started on Feb. 20 and will run until at least March 13, and is hosted on Sundays at the Change Makers’ Education Society downtown location. It is open to youth ages 15 to 30.

“This is just a welcoming and inclusive way for, especially youth, to participate because you can start and finish a rose in a small amount of time,” Buchanan said.

Participants are allowed to keep some of the roses they make to share with friends and family while adding to the final project’s tally. Some youth like making the cedar roses so much, they have come into the society on their own time to make more. They even teach others how to weave the flowers, Buchanan said.

When the memorial is complete, Buchanan hopes to make the project mobile and accompanied by an informative display.

“We have been thinking about possibly taking it to schools or setting it up at the library or at one of the arts studios,” she said.

The organization is also reviewing the possibility of renting a venue like the Tom Rooney Playhouse to host an event featuring the display.

Program participation is limited to 10 individuals and interested youth can register online for upcoming workshops.

READ MORE: Change Makers to open new youth centre in Prince Rupert

Norman Galimski | Journalist
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