Field School honours tradition

The Greater Vernon Museum & Archives offers workshop on making traditional Syilx rope from Dogbane

  • Sep. 20, 2017 5:30 a.m.

The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Field School is back for another year of community-based hands-on learning with a workshop on how to make traditional Syilx rope from dogbane.

Led by Syilx artist and teacher Ruby Alexis, the workshop takes place Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to noon and will include sourcing and picking the dogbane, preparing the fibre and making the rope.

Rope made from dogbane, a plant which grows freely in the Okanagan, was created and used by the Syilx people for many purposes, especially fishing nets, and then became a popular trade item with the early fur traders as it was renowned for its durability and strength. It was often referred to as “Indian hemp.”

“The ropes are beautiful,” says Gabriel Newman, education coordinator at the Vernon Museum, who first saw Alexis’ work at the Vernon Public Art Gallery as part of the Kama Creative showing last year. “I was drawn to this beautiful fishing net that Ruby Alexis had created with community members. I wanted to touch it and to work with the material so I thought it would make a great fit with our Field School.

“I am so excited that Ruby has agreed to share this knowledge with the community.”

The workshop is also part of Culture Days, which is a collaborative Canada-wide volunteer program to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. As it is a part of Culture Days, the Vernon Museum will be offering the workshop free of charge but registration is required and space is limited.

The Vernon Museum Field School is an annual hands-on educational series which teams up with local businesses, organizations and experts who have “historic skills” to present to adults. The next Field School will be held Jan. 27 at Spinners Sound Centre in downtown Vernon and will be focused on how to set up your turn tables to achieve optimal sound.

Please call 250-542-3142 for more information and to reserve your spot.

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