Volunteers stitch up face protection to send far and wide
- Michelle Lerat | June 22, 2020
Angela Bishop’s team of 15 seamstresses has sewn almost 5,000 masks for elders, veterans and communities hit hard by Covid-19.
Bishop, a Metis lawyer from Green Lake, has become a seamstress and organizer in her free time to help protect people from the virus.
She began making masks in March when people were told to self-isolate. Her mother’s husband required medical treatments and her brother drove a medical taxi. That’s when Bishop had the idea to help those who didn’t have the option to stay home and for those at higher risk.
“When people aren't covered up that’s an Individual at risk, a family at risk, a community at risk, a nation at risk. That’s why we made the masks,” she said.
She began posting pictures and updates on Facebook about the masks she was making for family and friends, which led to more requests and volunteer offers from people who had sewing machines and time on their hands.
“I was sharing on social media some of the pictures and information on how to make the masks,” she said. “What I was trying to do was teach people how to make masks and what was the best material for making masks.”
Bishop uses two layers of polypropylene in her masks, which she says repels water and is similar to material used in N95 masks.
First, she enlisted help from her mom, sister and niece. Now fifteen seamstresses, all friends and family, make the masks.
“With the outbreak in northern Saskatchewan… we started to target them send out truck loads [of masks].”
Bishop regularly picks up masks from Saskatoon, Christopher Lake, where she lives, Duck Lake and Prince Albert, where she meets a driver from Earl Beebe Trucking Ltd., who takes them for free to his delivery destinations in the north.
She sent 450 masks to La Loch, where Brenda Janvier also made 100 masks to help her community.
“Thank you to and her team for reaching out to the community. It was really appreciated,” Janvier said.
Besides sending masks to many northern communities, Bishop also gave some to Persons Living with AIDS Network in Saskatoon and the Navajo Nation in the United States.
Some of the face coverings are made with tie strings, which work better on people who use hearing aids. Themes and designs are incorporated into the masks such as the Metis sash, flags and Cree words.
“Our masks are intended to reflect pride in our community,” she says.
The team does not accept cash donations. Those who wish to contribute are invited to donate to an account for supplies at Century Textiles in Saskatoon. That way people can be sure their contribution goes directly to making the masks. The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan recently donated $8,000 to the project, she said.
“We believe we have more cred if we ask for thread.” she says.
Bishop is thankful for the seamstresses who have pitched in.
“All the knowledge accumulated over a life time puts them in a position where they’re able to really make a difference in our communities.” she says.