Craftstravaganza: Celebrating International Women's Day

At our much anticipated 4th Annual IWD crafting event, four master craftswomen were on hand between noon and 4pm to share their skills. Free to come and go, guests were invited to enjoy good food, good company, good crafting and an Ethiopian/Eritrean coffee ceremony! The workshops featured:
Reverse Appliqué with Maria Choi
Maria taught the quilting technique of reverse appliqué, in which several layers of fabric are stacked, shapes are cut, and raw edges are turned under and stitched to expose a second layer. Maria came to Canada over five years ago. In Korea, she worked as a master quilter and instructor. In Winnipeg, she was asked by the MOSAIC Newcomer Family Resource Network to make a quilt out of many different, traditional fabrics donated by the newcomer women participating in their programs. The result is now known as the MOSAIC quilt and is displayed at their office. Maria volunteers at community events, teaching her skill to other newcomer women.
Agaseke (Rwandan Basketry) with Assumpta Mukandutiye
Agaseke is a tradition that has practical as well as symbolic value to the culture of Rwanda. Agaseke translates into “No one can see in your heart”, and refers to the symbolic meaning of the baskets, which, when closed with a lid, will keep the secrets of the family. Traditionally made of sisal, the fiber from the Agave plant, they are given to the bride on her wedding day, and used to hide jewelry as well as store and serve food. After the genocide in Rwanda, Agaseke became a way to promote women’s involvement in peace and reconciliation. The “how to” of this practice will be taught by Assumpta who started her new life in Canada three years ago, after supporting her family as a widow in a refugee camp by making and selling craft items such as embroidery and beaded jewelry. In Winnipeg she promotes traditional Rwandan craft traditions among the younger community members.  
Knitting in the Bhutanese Culture with Kamala and Phul Maya 
The Particular knitting traditions of Bhutan were of interest to experienced knitters, and beginning knitters had the opportunity to learn basic stitches.  Kamala and Phul Maya demonstrated, taught and talked about their unique culture based in the Himalayan Mountains.  Kamala and Phul Maya both came to Canada a little more than a year ago with their respective families.  Up until that point, they had spent most of their lives living in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, waiting to repatriate in a third country.  They are currently enrolled in the IRCOM Child Care Program to enhance their employment opportunities in Winnipeg.  
Beauty and Fashion in Afghanistan with Leilomah Ahmad
This workshop provided a glimpse into the fastest growing industry in Afghanistan today. Perceptions of beauty and fashion vary between and within cultures. Cross-culturally, they are a means for self expression and individuation. However, during the Taliban government’s rule in Afghanistan, women’s access to beauty and fashion was prohibited, and serious repercussions were faced by women for simple practices such as painting their nails. Despite ongoing conservatism, the beauty industry thrives in Kabul, largely because beauty and fashion hold an important position in Afghan culture. At MAWA, Leilomah provided free manicures, including the chance to experiment with colors and designs. She came to Canada nearly 5 years ago and lives here with her husband and five children. She works as a child minder and an interpreter with various community organizations assisting other newcomer women adjust to Canadian life and culture. During the Craftstravaganza, the 12-minute documentary Kabul Beauty was shown, describing the experiences of self-employed, Afghan women with their own beauty parlor.
Image:  Assumpta Mukandutiye with her Agaseke (Rwandan Basketry)