Beadwork for veterans in Kahnawake


For the past two and a half years, Kahnawake community member Terri Thomas has presented beaded poppies to the families of deceased local veterans.

“The idea to make beaded poppies for all of our deceased veterans came to me about three years ago after attending the beautiful military funeral of a relative who was a veteran,” Thomas said.

“It inspired me to try making a beaded poppy because most veterans – living and dead – wore plastic poppies.”

Thomas explained that she started by making a pearl poppy, and the result was much better than she expected, so she made a few more. She then contacted Branch 219 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Terri contacted me with the idea of ​​giving a beaded poppy to a deceased veteran. They will have the beaded poppy with them as they embark on their next journey in life,” said area veteran Tara Jacobs. and Legion officer.

“She asked if the Legion would be okay with this idea, and without hesitation I answered for the Legion and said yes.”

When a Kahnawake veteran dies, Thomas is notified and creates a personalized beaded poppy which Jacobs then presents to the family. The pearl says that on occasion she delivers the poppies herself if she personally knows the deceased.

Thomas, who beads in his spare time and has been beading for about 18 years now, shared how Pauline Loft taught him how to make moccasins when they were both students in the Kanien adult immersion program. ‘kéha Ratiwennahní:rats.

“I will be forever grateful to him for teaching me. I am also surrounded by an amazing group of pearlers who offer advice, tips and advice, and I am also so grateful for all of their help over the years that we pearled together,” Thomas said.

Although she is not sure, the beader thinks she has given between eight and ten poppies so far.

“My mom used to make beaded poppies maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and I’ve always admired hers,” she said.

Ray Deer, president of Legion Branch 219, said the initiative, which Thomas dubbed the Poppy Project, honors our local veterans.

“Our community and other Indigenous communities have started beading poppies, and that’s what people want now. Pearl poppies are a symbol of First Nations veterans,” Deer said.

“That identifies us, and I think that’s where there’s renewed inspiration with the poppy campaign for First Nations communities.”

Thomas has now called on his fellow pearlers to join his project and continue to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our earth.

Cathy Guimond, a local pearler, answered the call.

“I saw her post on Facebook and was drawn to her. I loved beading, and the idea of ​​Project Poppy was to recognize veterans. And to honor their memory,” said Guimond, who practices beadwork for many years.

“And also, what’s going on in the world and the men and women who decide to go to war… nobody wants to go to war.”

Guimond is very passionate about her bead work and constantly challenges her craft by practicing new techniques and manipulating different materials. She said she had done poppies in the past and was looking forward to contributing to the project.

“I believe this initiative is important to the families of the deceased veteran as it is a gesture of appreciation for the service they have rendered for our freedom,” Jacobs said.

“The feedback has been great. Families do not expect this and become overwhelmed and grateful.

Thomas said as a child she grew up going to the Remembrance Day Parade with her mother every year to honor her grandfather Angus O. Goodleaf, who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War. world.

She still attends the parade and now brings her own daughter with her.

“It’s important that she knows about the sacrifices our veterans made for the freedoms we enjoy today,” Thomas said.

“We have so many veterans in our community, and sending them off on their next trip with a pearl poppy on their lapel is just a small token of my appreciation for their service.”

She decided to go public with her initiative because there are so many talented local beadworkers in the city, and she wanted to give them the opportunity to join in and contribute.

“I have received a few responses from interested people within our community who have committed to beading a poppy. I have also received a commitment from a beader from Tyendinaga who also wants to participate,” she said.

Those interested in beading poppies can contact Thomas on Facebook or call 450-632-6250.

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