Two students from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education are attempting to preserve the history and culture of Cumberland House through quilting.
Students located in the northern community have worked to translate the stories of their relatives and Elders into quilt patches.
Pierrette Settee recounts her grandfather Chief Tom Settee’s relocation from Pine Bluff to Cumberland House as a way of escaping his children’s forced attendance at residential school.
She said her mother remembers an argument with a government agent.
“[My mother] overheard this conversation or just argument saying that if you don’t move to Cumberland, you will never see the children again. Meaning that children are going to be sent all over the place to residential schools,” Settee explained.
Her quilt design is that of white leather, which used to belong to her grandmother, was is cut into the shape of a buffalo. Settee said the patch represents education.
In making the quilt, Settee became emotional, in thinking of the struggles her grandfather endured in trying to get education for his children.
“The emotions I felt when I was making it was how proud I was of the education that I was getting,” said Settee. “When he was chief, he basically fought eight years with the other chiefs to get schools on reserves. And when I was making the quilt, all I can think about was all the hardships that my family went through residential school. And how easy it is for us today to get this education. When it was so hard for them.”
For Jared Crane, he interviewed his mother who helped him better understand the significance of the medicine wheel. “Hearing what she had to say, in all it was it was eye opening,” Crane said. “It’s about living a balanced life. Balancing the spiritual, mental, physical, emotional aspect, so you know, things aren’t going well. And you’re not feeling well mentally or emotionally. Remember what a medicine wheel represents. Try and talk to an elder if you’re not feeling well.”
Crane created a moosehide patch, beaded in a medicine wheel pattern by his mother.