Lydia Ruth is a Truth and Reconciliation project that takes the participants on a journey of concrete understanding through the twin streams of storytelling with words, and storytelling with beads, looking at narrative through the Indigenous lens.
In the Unity Bracelet Workshop, participants work with very disparate materials-from lava to crystal, to semi-precious stones, these beads represent the unique beauty of our differences, and highlights not only our interconnectedness, but how seemingly opposing things can co-exist in harmony and beauty.
Selecting the beads, and stringing them not only brings people into the present moment, but also into the beauty and harmony of a making circle. One of the teachings being delivered is that we are all creators. This make and take experience is a time of very playful creation, and co-creation. Everyone leaves with a bracelet as unique as they are, and connected by the circle.
Lydia Ruth Barnes was a Turtle Clan Mohawk woman, my great-grandmother, and the last in our family to attend a residential school. It is my intention to honour her life with this project and raise funds for indigenous youth pursuing study the Arts. The Arts have sustained our people through trying times, and I believe, have facilitated the healing of generational trauma for many of us.
In my work, I honour the iconography of the circle is an enduring motif in Indigenous life. The way of the circle is multifaceted and layered. The cycles of nature are circular, and so the circle is embedded deeply in each one of us. Coming together in a Maker’s Circle helps us express our own experiences as Creators. Our circles connect us. In the circle, everyone is of equal importance.
April Mitchell-Boudreau (Metis) is a Niagara-based Indigenous designer, who is on a mission to awaken the creator that lives inside every person. Together with her husband Doug, April owns and operates BeadQueen, an innovative handmade jewelry company.
Passionate about empowering people’s natural creativity, April is the designer of the Lofttan Strandwear jewelry system, and is constantly challenging herself to create new tools for expression. More recently, April has begun offering Conscious Creation Workshops, where mindfulness is awakened through design, and stringing beads. When people “make” together, magic happens!
Now in its 13th year of business, BeadQueen operates as both a retailer and wholesaler out of Niagara; selling online, in museum shops and galleries across the country, and participating in select juried retail environments.