By: Julia Magsombol 

Local Initiative Reporter 

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Columbia Valley Métis Association (CVMA) offers a Métis sash weaving course steeped in tradition from March until June.

The Métis sash is a key part of Métis traditional dress. It has bright colours and can incorporate beads and other embellishments. Like ribbon skirts, the sash is sometimes available in different Indigenous clothing stores. When you enter these stores, sashes can first attract your attention due to their colours.

It is known that a majority of strands of sash are similar in colour, and some represent a shared history, traditions and identity. Different shades represent the uniqueness of Métis individuals and communities. 

Most sashes are hand-woven wool belts; their fringed ends are specifically decorative.

For men, sashes are worn around the waist or over the shoulder. Métis women also occasionally wear it over the shoulder.

Sashes are usually worn in ceremonials as decoration, and to show pride in Métis heritage.

Historically, only men wore the sash, but today, wearing the sash varies in different Métis communities — it also represents the strength of Métis people together. 

A quote from the Gabriel Dumont Institute: “One strand of wool alone, even the strongest strand, can be broken easily the first time it is stressed. The same strand, however, woven together with other strands is supported on all sides. Weak spots along any strand are compensated by the strength of the other strands. A single strand has a lesser risk of breaking when it is woven among the other strands. By weaving the strands together, you strengthen the sash. In other words, weave all of the strands of a cultural and education community together, and you strengthen the community. All of the strands woven together become something beautiful and strong.”

Today, the sash has a variety of uses, such as scarves, tumplines, washcloths, towels, and blankets.

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The CVMA offers a three-month sash weaving course for all ages. It is self-paced, therefore easy for beginners.

However, registration for this course is closed since the class is full.