Cultural Workshops Educate from an Aboriginal Perspective

Mohawk Native educating with a story

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

Programming from art groups and creativity studios isn’t the only thing going on at the Tett over the coming weeks. The weekend of Feb. 7-8 also saw the kick-off of Entsitewayen'tho, a 10-week aboriginal cultural program presented by the Kanienkahaka (Mohawk) people of Tyendinaga. Its goal is to educate members of the public about First People’s culture.

“We like to offer an aboriginal perspective on aboriginal history rather than a western perspective,” explained Pauline Maracle, whose Mohawk name, Katsitsyaroroks, means “she gathers flowers.”

“It’s not all about text books anymore,” added Jayson Martin, whose Mohawk name is Raweyenentas, meaning “he gets things ready”. “Text books say that we still live in teepees. We don’t.”

The workshops educate people about Kanienkahaka language and cultural traditions through craft, language, song dance and feast. Depending on the week, attendees can make things like beaded earrings, dream catchers, cornhusk dolls, rattles, moccassins and bone bead bracelets and learn skills like loomwork and flatstitch beading.

Maracle said the thing people often find most surprising when they take these workshops is simply that First People are still very much present in our society.

“They’ve learned that it’s history, that we’re a people that [was here in the past].”

To prove this isn’t the case, Maracle and her fellow teachers wore their traditional regalia through Kingston when they came to teach the workshop.

“We wore it at our stop at Tim Horton’s, our stop at the Dollar Store, at our run into Reid’s Dairy on our way home. And the people had questions and they eyes said ‘you’re here!” The reaction from people is amazing.”

Through Entsitewayen'tho, Maracle can take this education a step further.

“It’s one thing to learn about us, but it’s another thing to learn from us. We’re physically still here teaching our language and speaking our language and doing our ceremonies and teaching our crafts to people. It’s a real eye opener that we weren’t just were here. We are here.”

Maracle encourages people to come engage in the lessons and activities and learn something new about another culture.

“We’re going to have lots of wonderful things to do in the next 10 weeks. Lots of song and dance, we teach our language with our craft segments that we’re doing, and we always have a meal. People will get a chance to experience and touch on our history all around."

Classes run from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays. There is a small fee attached to each individual weekend ranging from $25 - $65 or $130 for one two-week commitment. People are asked to pre-register for each session and payment must be secured to secure your spot. For information or to register, call Pauline at 613-661-4189 or email

The weeks are themed as follows:

Feb. 14 – 15: Dreamcatchers ($50)
Feb. 21-22: Loomwork ($65)
Feb. 28 – March 1: Beaded earrings ($45)
March 7 – 8 and March 14 – 15: Moccassins. This is a two-week commitment. ($130)
March 21 – 22: Rattles ($80)
March 28: Bone bead bracelets ($40)
April 4 – 5: Cornhusk dolls (25)
April 11 – 12: Flatstitch beading ($45)