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Gitsegukla students flourish in the sewing arts

GITSEGUKLA Gitsegukla will never be confused with established fashion capitals London, New York and Milan but for one night in late June residents here were treated to a home-grown fashion show from students in a Northwest Community College (NWCC) art program delivered in the rural community southwest of Hazelton. It marked the triumphant end to the nine-week Interdisciplinary Art Access (INTA ART) program, where students strutted on the lit catwalk, exhibiting their clothing creations and designs. Taught by the talented and patient Valerie Morgan, owner of a First Nation fashion business called Raven Tales Studio, her students learned to sew garments and apply their own unique designs onto fabric. They made pine needle baskets, cedar roses, moccasins, regalia, jackets, hoodies, childrens clothing, a memory quilt with photos on fabric, and accessories such as purses and medicine bags. They also learned to adjust a pattern, how to apply edging, zippers, appliqu‚s, lining, and sew on slant pockets. On the jackets and hoodies, students attached their own unique designs and crests on the front, back and sleeves of the garment. Some of the designs were done in metallic fabric and looked sensational the gold or metallic red on a black jacket or hoodie. Morgan said shes proud of all the students, who persevered through initial doubts to thrive. Quite a few of the students were afraid in the beginning that they would be unable to sew all that their instructor had planned for them, but she refused to allow any of them to give up. After they got over their initial fears, they wanted to go night and day on their sewing! said Morgan, adding she really enjoyed working with the people of Gitsegukla. Everyone has so much talent and the ability to create beautiful work when they have the interest and the desire. I have been really impressed by the efforts and the work of the students and the end results are amazing. To watch them wear their work, honour others with gifts of their work, and see the pride on their faces because they did it, is such wonderful and heart-warming experience. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to have been their teacher. The feelings were mutual, as when the show was over, students lined up at the microphone to tell Morgan how much they appreciated her and her expertise, her humour, her patience and strong belief in their own abilities and the long hours she put in. Said student Patsey Aster: I had a tough time operating my machine, but it got easier. I am so thankful for Val, I was able to put my graduation gift together for my son. It was great. Thank you, Val. The students, young and old, male and female, formed a strong bond in class, where Gitxsan was often spoken. The gem in the program was Elder Flora Howard, who is 92. Because of the class, the village is certain to be a more colourful place with the all the new and beautiful clothing that has just been created! The Gitsegukla band sponsored the INTA ART program for the village. Special thanks go out to Keith Morgan, Gitsegukla band manager, and to Sheila Russell and Roxanne Alexcee from the Social Development Department in Gitsegukla for their energies and their commitment to making this program happen.

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