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Creator of world’s largest Métis beaded work to speak at Museum

News release details

– The creator of the largest Métis beaded artwork in the world will be available tomorrow for a media photo opportunity and interviews in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights' Indigenous Perspectives gallery.

Jennine Krauchi created a seven-metre tall "octopus bag" (also known as a "fire bag") covered in a traditional Métis floral beadwork pattern, using thousands of antique fur-trade era beads from the mid-1800s. The finished work weighs over 27 kilograms, displayed as part of an exhibit about the displacement of Métis people who lived in communities on government road allowances.

What: Creator of world's largest Métis beaded work
When: Wednesday, March 9, 1 p.m.
Where: Canadian Museum for Human Rights
(CMHR), 85 Israel Asper Way

Note: High-resolution photos of the artist and beaded artwork are available upon request. To view a video about the project installation, please click here. The video can be clipped for B-roll, please credit DF Heritage Conservation Services.

Krauchi will also give public talks at the Museum tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. She will be joined by Métis Elder George Fleury, whose home was destroyed in the 1930s when the road allowance community of Ste. Madeleine, Manitoba was removed. Lawrence Barkwell, coordinator of Métis heritage and history research at the Louis Riel Institute, will also speak. The event is included in the cost of general admission.

Krauchi and mother, Jenny Meyer, completed the beaded work over an eight-month period. Children from Brooklands School and members of Manitoba's Métis community also contributed their efforts to the project. Although Krauchi and her mother have created works for many dignitaries and museums – including the Canadian Museum of History; the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, Scotland; and the Manitoba Museum – they had never before attempted a work on the scale of the CMHR project.

"I was excited and scared – I could not get my head around it at first," she said. Her original rough pattern drawn on a sheet of paper included nine large flowers, which coincidentally aligned with the nine former Métis road allowance communities listed in the centre of the work. "The biggest flower, the rose, symbolizes our survival as Métis people."

An octopus bag (or fire bag) is a pouch with eight decorative tabs that are richly embroidered with beads in a distinctive style influenced by both French silk embroidery and Indigenous beaded work. Worn tucked under the fold of a waist sash, it was an essential aspect of a Métis man's wardrobe, holding tobacco, tinder for fire, and pipe materials.

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Maureen Fitzhenry