Masked Makers get boost from MN-S
- Andréa Ledding | June 01, 2020
When COVID-19 shut down the court houses and so many other buildings and activities, Angela Bishop had some time on her hands. Being from an isolated northern community, Bishop, a lawyer by trade, knew how important masks might be in helping to prevent spread and increase awareness, so she began sewing them. But taking half an hour to make a mask, she realized she might have a bigger impact if she reached out to more adept seamstresses. Fifteen women were enlisted, and together they have created close to 5,000 masks distributed for free in Saskatchewan.
More than half of them were using very old machines, some were using elementary school craft and paper scissors to cut the fabric and elastics. The Métis Nation - Saskatchewan (MN-S) took an interest in the project, and after donating considerable fabric and other tools, has procured 15 brand new state-of-the-art Janome machines for the seamstresses to continue their work.
“It goes to show the spirit of our people, to get people motivated making masks,” said Glen McCallum, president of MN-S. “To have good stories out there, to see people working together as we address this pandemic together.”
While carefully maintaining social distancing, each seamstress was individually recognized and presented with a new machine and carrying case at a recognition event.
“These masks have been made for all our staff, the citizens of MN-S, and other public citizens across our province, so I want to thank the seamstresses,” said Marg Friesen, MN-S Health Minister. “They had worked under adverse conditions I must say, with old equipment and old tools, using paper scissors sometimes to cut fabric, so we want to thank them and Angela Bishop for putting the team together, to make sure our Elders and our veterans and our citizens are covered.”
“When we started to hear news about COVID and how it was affecting our community, I began to sew masks myself and soon it became obvious we were going to need more masks and more seamstresses,” explained Bishop, adding that they made the 5000 masks in a period of 8 weeks, and over half of those masks have gone to the northern communities on lockdown. “So, we’re quite proud of the work...a lot of our seamstresses were working with older equipment but notwithstanding these challenges they were there for all of our communities, because an individual at risk, is a family at risk, is a community at risk, is our nation at risk. So, thank you to all of our seamstresses, absolutely amazing, I’ve never worked with a team as great as this.”
And Bishop is now down to six minutes a mask, which, with a new machine, may get even faster. Members of the “Masked Makers” include Bishop, Gwen King, Gaylene Wetzel, Joan Umpherville, Berna Seeseequasis, Virginia Umpherville, April Olsen, Josephine Bishop, Gina Gamble, Tracie King, Dakota Gamble Morin, Amanda Ulriksen, Heather Pocock, Sherry Eyahpaise, Rita Arnault, and Rose Richardson.