Stacey Fayant explaining the significance of Métis beading. Photo by Hang Wen
Sharing a living tradition of floral beauty and cultural pride
Exploring the artistry and significance of Métis beadwork at the Regina Public Library
By Kuaile Wei
Regina Public Library’s Central Branch is offering a hands-on opportunity to explore Métis beading this fall.
“Beading has that aspect of showing people how proud we are to be who we are, especially for Métis,” said Stacey Fayant, a member of Peepeekisis First Nation.
Fayant is leading a beading circle in the library’s community room on Thursday evenings until Nov. 2.
“This is open to the public. So you don’t have to come to every single class,” explained Fayant.
Métis beading is a very specific type of beading done by the Métis, combining First Nations beadwork with floral embroidered patterns.
All levels of beaders are welcome.
“You can be really good at beading (and) know exactly what you’re doing. You can bring your own project if you want, or you can come in and I can show people who have never beaded before how to get started,” said Fayant.
More than just fashion, tradition, or the relics of a culture long past, flower beadwork is a living tradition for the Métis people of North America.
The Métis style is two-needle beading, using two needles to do the beading embroidery, instead of one.
“A lot of times, the floral work would show the plants — flowers, leaves, fruit, seeds, everything possible — so that somebody could be identified (and)maybe tell stories or teach others about its additional value,” said Fayant.
Fayant said the Métis designs can differ from northern to southern Saskatchewan.
“For me, a lot of the stuff that I do has white roses and choke cherries in it,” Fayant said. “That kind of stuff (came) from my dad’s side. Because my mom is French, (from) her family garden as well.”
Métis are very much about keeping a balance, she added.
“You will often find in the design itself, an X, which some people say refers to Jesus or Catholicism,” said Fayant.
Métis beadwork, similar to the work of other Indigenous artists, emphasizes interconnectedness among its parts.
“It’s really beautiful that beading is a way for us to show who we are now. “STACEY FAYANT
Fayant said the Métis people love decoration, and both men and women love being beautiful.
“So even though nowadays we think of floral designs as really feminine, Métis men wear all sorts of floral signs and really look amazing and awesome,” she said, “It’s really beautiful that beading is a way for us to show who we are now. It’s also a beautiful way to learn from each other.”
Fayant said her current project is sew-on beaded patches. She also loves doing medallions, and she always feels it is great to learn.
“With a lot of these types of Métis beading circles, the end goal is that visiting,” said Fayant.
“Visiting is such an important part of our culture and lots of people’s cultures. So that’s the end goal is to have that time set aside to visit and to laugh and to be together and hopefully inspire people to keep doing that.”
Exchange undergraduate student from China, currently majoring in art at University of Regina.