staff member participating in craft circle
The first KHSC Indigenous craft circle invited staff to learn the various styles and techniques of Indigenous crafts, including beading and sewing.
Matthew Manor

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) held its first Indigenous craft circle on June 18, as part of our National Indigenous History Month celebrations. Indigenous crafting has a long and rich history. Passed on from generation to generation, many crafts are specific to particular Indigenous groups or families.

Led by Dionne Nolan, Chair of KHSC’s Indigenous Staff Community Group, the event invited staff to learn the various styles and techniques of Indigenous crafts, including beading and sewing.

“It was so wonderful,” says Mary Myers, manager of inclusion, leadership and talent development. “Wonderful to see people taking time out of their day to do some handiwork. We beaded around some orange shirt pins and made medicine pouches, and there were medicines on hand to put inside. People learned together and had some fun too.”

Beading is a cultural and spiritual tradition. It’s both an art form and wellness or therapeutic practice that holds great significance for Indigenous communities. Beading has been widely recognized by Indigenous Peoples as a means of recording and translating cultural knowledge and promoting wellness across various contexts.

Participants in the craft circle learned how to make a medicine pouch. They could either make the pouch during the event or take the supplies home to complete the craft. The medicine pouch, often referred to as a medicine bag, is usually small and contains either sacred medicines or items that are important to individuals, to take with them during their travels.

“It was wonderful to experience beading firsthand, as it allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for Indigenous culture,” says Terry Shi, inclusion advisor. “I’m grateful the Indigenous Staff Community Group hosted the event. I learned something new and had a fantastic time! I encourage others to check it out next time, whether it's for the whole event or just a few minutes.”

Thank you to the Indigenous Staff Community Group for organizing this gathering to develop powerful connections between staff and giving people an opportunity to learn about crafting and why it’s an important part in the way of life for Indigenous Peoples.