For Women's Groups | Classrooms | Workplaces | Communities
Smudge Feathers | Feather Bundles | Talking Feathers
- one of a kind workshops -
For Your Students, Your Workplace and Community
Meet Mr. T
Our Feather Bundle workshops are infused with valuable lessons that reflect respect for others, respect for our land and the animals that we share it with. We explore natural order and introduce the ways in which Indigenous cultures hold Mother Earth's animals in high esteem. Mr. T accompanies us to every workshop as does our entire collection of hand made artifacts that our participants love to explore.
Feather bundles or ‘Talking Feathers’ play a very important role in our Indigenous Nations. Sharing circles are now used widely in our school systems and workplaces and feather bundles are also traditionally used by individuals to direct medicines in spiritual and physical healing and cleansing (ex: smudging). All of these teachings are visited in our workshops.
This workshop initiative envisions a more respectful connection between Ontario’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities by tapping into mutual interests despite different histories or ideologies. By recognizing mutual ground such as art and environment, we have an opportunity to create a reciprocal relationship and decrease the perceptions of inequality.
As of fall 2016, each school board in Ontario has a position that is designated to support the implementation of the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework. School boards within Ontario now have an 'Indigenous Lead'.
For educators looking for funding and resources like this workshop, please contact your school board and access the funding that is available for Indigenous studies.
We only ask that you cover the cost of our materials and travel. To collect and clean local feathers in this quantity is very hard work and materials such as hide are very expensive. Please do not ask an Indigenous Elder or Knowledgekeeper to teach in your classroom without offering an honorarium. To learn more about procedure and honorariums, click here for an excellent document by Carleton University.
Please contact us for more info.
A note regarding material fees. This is a letter meant to be reviewed by school teachers and school boards before asking any Indigenous person to make a presentation in your classroom/school/community.
"Please don't take offence to this, I beg you. Unfortunately, I have to write this response to several school boards and/or teachers each week for the past number of years.
In my most sincere voice, I really wish that materials were not so expensive, but we (Indigenous workshop facilitators) cannot afford to buy them for your students, drive them there, present them and teach about them for 3 hours. Workshops are 'work'.
We encounter a lot of educators that want us (Indigenous people) to share our cultures in the classroom. We recognize that it is an opportunity to advance understanding of our cultures and we want to do so...we really do. Most of us even do it for free at first - that is, until we realize that the gas is coming out of our grocery money.
Coming to your classroom costs us a lot; a day away from work or family, gas, food (and sometimes hotel) the craft materials and, most importantly, we are sharing the most intimate parts of our lives - our spirituality.
Collectively, Indigenous people are trying to help change the way Canadians understand us. Historically we have been undervalued as contributors to Canadian culture...Tell me, what has changed if we cannot even reconcile fees for our expenses? Why are we invited?
Educators are getting paid to be in the school and teach in the classroom - it seems unfair to ask us to do it for free or even to break even. Teaching your non-Indigenous children is not our obligation - we have our own communities, children and youth to take care of.
Please pass this along to your colleagues. I dare to speak on behalf of Indigenous women in the classrooms."
Nia:wen and kindest regards,
Dawn | Iehsthóserinon:nha (She Keeps the Feathers)| Mary Francis
President & Founder, Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada | Owner, Pass The Feather
For Your Workplace
Adult workshops allow us to (re)connect with the natural world and to take time to reflect on our dependance on Mother Earth. They give us an opportunity to reconsider our perspectives on family, friends and colleagues and offer a new outlook on equality and acceptance.
In non-Indigenous settings the workshops introduce Indigenous culture and offer an overview of our spirituality, In this time of social justice, it is easy to misunderstand the challenges that our Indigenous communities face.
We will practice and explore the healing and spiritual benefits of sharing circles and how intergenerational trauma and blood memory profoundly affect our lifestyle and actions. We also touch on bird medicines, sustainable hunting practice and ornithology.
Each participant will receive a variety of feathers, hide and beads to work with. All are welcome to be creative and design sharing circle bundles, regalia fans or smudge feathers that are suitable to their personal needs and uses.
Participants and Costs
Isohetst ne ostó:ser | Pass The Feather workshops are designed for adults, children and youth. We are open to working in any safe, inclusive and respectful spaces such as classrooms, communities, workplaces and private homes. We most often facilitate workshops with:
- Educators in their classrooms
- Faculty within boards of education
- Women's groups
- Groups of survivors of residential school and Indigenous child removal services (60's Scoop)
- Day camps, healing camps, children's summer programs
- University based Indigenous resource centres
- Corrections facilities
Our workshops are generally 2-2.5 hours depending on the group's schedule. We have been known to shorten workshops to accommodate certain schedules but warn that many groups are very responsive and desire more discussion time. Facilitator will never limit the amount of time spent with any group.
Most groups will work with three or more types of feathers, minimum of two colours of hide, plastic and wooden beads.
Feather Bundle Workshops and Sharing | Talking Circle Gatherings are available upon request as are quotes for these presentations. Feather Bundle workshops range in price from $30-50 per participant (depending on materials and demographics). Mileage and per diam for food and accommodation is requested.
Primary and secondary school workshops are always $30 per student for materials within Eastern and Southern Ontario.
Workshop fees cover materials only. While we do not charge for our time, we may ask for help with travel costs. Adult workshops work with higher quality hide and a larger selection of feathers.
Our workshop facilitators do not charge for Indigenous teachings or discussions of Indigenous spirituality. If the facilitator has learned from an Elder, it is a responsibility to share the teachings without the exchange of goods or money. Facilitators will do their best to answer questions regarding our culture and spirituality but are not to be confused with Elders or Knowledge Keepers. We will never pretend to have knowledge that we have not learned from an Elder. We will never share Indigenous knowledge without permissions from our teachers. PTF does not participate in any practices relating to organized religion or new age theories.
In November of 2016 we visited Featherston Drive Public School in Ottawa and were honoured to be worthy of a CBC interview.
Listen to our interview and see a collection of videos and photos from our Feather Bundle Workshops.