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Lending of traditional garment for special events helps overcome cost barrier

Lending of traditional garment for special events helps overcome cost barrier

When Kyrra Kematch burned part of her ribbon skirt at a sweat ceremony, she needed a quick solution. The 17-year-old had registered for the Matriarch Summit, a gathering of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse individuals, but couldn’t afford to purchase a new skirt.

“I didn’t want to wear it to the Matriarch Summit because it’s a really professional event,” Kematch said. “I found this lady on Facebook who was renting out her ribbon skirts to anyone who needed them, as long as you gave them back.”

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Gosselin started making the skirts in March and now has a dozen to lend out.</p>


Gosselin started making the skirts in March and now has a dozen to lend out.

That lady was Sasha Gosselin, who began lending her collection of handmade ribbon skirts to strangers in the last few months.

Kematch was pleasantly surprised by Gosselin’s kindness and generosity.

“She just hands them out and lets anyone wear them, anytime,” Kematch said. “That’s absolutely wonderful. I love what she’s doing.”

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Retailing for prices between $100 and $400, the cost of ribbon skirts can be a significant barrier for some.</p>


Retailing for prices between $100 and $400, the cost of ribbon skirts can be a significant barrier for some.

Gosselin, who is originally from Treaty 4, only recently began creating ribbon skirts. Originally, she picked up the sewing machine to reconnect with her culture from her dad’s side of the family, but it soon became a catalyst to help others connect, too.

“After wearing my first ribbon skirt and feeling that sense of connection to my culture and the pride of wearing it, I wanted to be able to share that,” Gosselin said. “I started making my own skirts and I decided that I would take a chance and put them out there completely free of charge so that other people would get to experience what I got to.”

At first, Gosselin began informally lending the skirts by spreading the word on different Facebook groups. Recently, she launched a Facebook page called kisêwâtisiwin (“kindness” in Cree) to display her collection.

Retailing between $100-400, the cost of ribbon skirts can be a significant barrier for some, Gosselin said. Amid the grad and powwow season, the ribbon skirt demand has been high for artisans such as April Tawipisim, who owns Winnipeg-based Turtle Woman Indigenous Wear.

“On average, we sell about 10 skirts per week, and there’s been a real high demand for ribbon skirts with grad,” Tawipisim said.

Ribbon skirts are worn during ceremonies to evoke pride and a spiritual connection to the earth. One of Gosselin’s favourite aspects of the process is attaching ribbon drops to the sides of the skirts, which she sees as the “whispering of them going up to Creator, having them long so they’re close to the ground and they touch the earth.

“Our ancestral women wore dresses from cotton skirts and then added ribbons and made it nice and fancy,” Tawipisim said. “As time went by and things evolved, the shorter skirts became more fashionable.”

In just a few months, Gosselin’s ribbon skirts have been worn to a host of special events, from high school graduations to sundance ceremonies. One woman even travelled an eight-hour drive from Norway House Cree Nation to pick up a custom-designed skirt for her graduation.

“You might wear them to any kind of thing where you want that powerful feeling behind you, whether that’s going to a grad ceremony (or) going to something where you’re receiving some type of honour,” Gosselin said. “Just being present and showing that we’re still here.”

Kematch is just one of many Indigenous women who have borrowed Gosselin’s skirts, but she remains touched by her act of kindness.

“The ribbon skirt is really important to me because it’s something I hold near and dear to my heart, and it makes me feel more empowered,” Kematch said. “Out of the kindness of her heart, and for being such a trusting woman, she has let people borrow her skirts and bring them back for events. I just think that’s absolutely beautiful.”

As grad season comes to a close, Gosselin is eager to share her wardrobe with anyone heading to ceremonies. Emulating its Cree namesake for kindness, Gosselin hopes kisêwâtisiwin will help others feel the pride of wearing the threads of one’s culture, regardless of financial situation.

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Jane Goodall hosts two live events in Canada

Jane Goodall speaks during an interview in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Goodall says she's sharing a message of hope and a cry to action as she returns to the stage for live events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jane Goodall speaks during an interview in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Goodall says she's sharing a message of hope and a cry to action as she returns to the stage for live events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jane Goodall speaks during an interview in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Goodall says she’s sharing a message of hope and a cry to action as she returns to the stage for live events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – Jane Goodall says she’s sharing a message of hope and a cry to action as she returns to the stage for live events.

The scientist, who’s best known for her work with wild chimpanzees in Africa, was in Calgary on Wednesday and was scheduled to give another talk in Victoria on Friday night.

“It’s my first trip to Canada in three years, because of the pandemic, and it’s my third trip anywhere,” Goodall said in an interview Wednesday before her Calgary event.

Like many, she spent the past two-and-a-half years of the pandemic working from home and delivering her message online.

“It was a grind,” she said, “because we created virtual Jane and virtual Jane could do Zooms and Zoom interviews and attend conferences every day.”

Goodall, 88, said she keeps telling her story both online and in person to try to inspire others to find their own way to deal with threats such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

“If we don’t have hope, then we become apathetic and do nothing. So, if we all become apathetic and do nothing, we’re doomed,” she said.

“We are at a critical juncture and it’s desperately important that people get together and actually take action.”

Climate change is altering the water cycle and has led to floods, droughts and wildfires. It has also driven biodiversity loss, with research suggesting that a million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction around the world.

Both have happened, Goodall said, because of a lack of respect for the natural world.

“We need to remember that we are part of the natural world and, in fact, we depend on it,” she said. “We depend on it for clean air, water, food, everything.”

Goodall said that means having a healthy ecosystem.

“I see an ecosystem as a beautiful tapestry and, within that tapestry, each species of plant and animal has a role to play,” she said. “As they become extinct from that ecosystem, it’s like pulling threads from the tapestry until it hangs in tatters and then the ecosystem will collapse.”

She said people need to learn to live with species such as wolves, which are an important part of the ecosystem, and people also need to do their part to help restore nature.

“I think we’ve somehow got to reach into people’s hearts,” she said.

“You’ve got to find stories to help them realize that this is a crisis, but I actually can do something.”

Some, she said, may feel as though they are just one person who picks up plastic trash each day and isn’t making much of a difference. “But, when you think that there are millions of people picking up bits of trash, you realize it is making a difference. Collectively, a big difference.”

Goodall said Roots and Shoots, a youth leadership program that’s part of the Jane Goodall Institute, helps young people figure out how they can help.

“If our young people lose hope, we’ve had it,” she said. “It’s not true that nothing can be done.

“We’ve got this window of time — I have no idea how big that window is, I know it’s still closing — and so Roots and Shoots is about giving young people hope by empowering them to take action, to choose themselves projects to make the world a better place.”

She said the program has members from kindergarten to university, and adult groups are also forming.

“This is my greatest hope for the future,” said Goodall.

“That, and our brain that is beginning to turn to finding ways to heal the harm we’ve inflicted and the resilience of nature — that places we have destroyed can once again support nature and animals on the brink of extinction have been rescued.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 24, 2022.

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The Forks changes for Canada Day events praised

The Forks changes for Canada Day events praised

Steve Morris has watched The Forks’ Canada Day fireworks for as long as he can remember. He always looked forward to his July 1 tradition but isn’t upset it’s gone.

The Forks announced the replacement of its traditional festivities Friday with a new event called “A New Day,” which will feature activities such as storytelling tents, powwow dances, drummers and sporting tournaments in collaboration with the Indigenous community.

“I think this is a great substitution because it’s important to understand that culture and history. In previous years we have learned the importance of educating ourselves and others,” Morris said. “There’s going to be a lot of people who are upset the regular celebration is gone, but this is the right way to go about it.”

Morris has Lakota heritage and will visit The Forks on July 1 to enjoy the new event.

“People could learn a lot about the culture if they come in with an open mind. Watching traditional dances and hearing the songs is an uplifting spiritual experience. The beat of the drum is the heartbeat of Mother Nature.”

Throughout the day, ceremonies will be led by Elders Wanbdi Wakita and Pahan Pte San Win and an oral history tour will be given by Elder Barb Nepinak.

Indigenous siblings Ryan and April Hodgins said they appreciate the efforts The Forks has made in reconciliation.

“I think this is a step in the right direction. The Forks is a place where a lot of people meet and it holds a history for the community. I think it will be an influential day and I’m looking forward to attending,” Ryan said. “Canada Day has gained a new meaning and more people will start to realize that if they come.”

April is hopeful that more days to educate the public on Indigenous history follow the July 1 event.

“I’m an Indigenous woman and I wasn’t taught most of my history growing up. We need to see changes in schools and teach the true history of First Nations people in Manitoba. This new event is a start and a good way to emphasize education over celebration.”

When Cam McNaughtan first heard the regular celebrations were cancelled, he was disappointed, but after hearing more about the reasoning, he understands the change.

“I’m always interested in learning and educating myself on things that I don’t know about. Canada Day was always a great place for the city to come together as one, but the Indigenous community is the foundation of Canada and it’s important to remember that.”

McNaughtan said he will miss watching the fireworks, but will still join the festivities.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. with a morning ceremony at the Oodena Celebration Circle.

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Hotter weather heralded with summer sipping events

Hotter weather heralded with summer sipping events


Summer’s almost here, and while folks head out to the lake or on vacation throughout the warmer months, there’s still plenty to do when it comes to food and drink — locally made and otherwise.

Low Life Barrel House, whose year-long build I wrote about in the Free Press in early May, just released its first batch of wines made from organically grown Ontario grapes. The five initial offerings are all available by the glass or for takeaway by the bottle from the Daly Street facility, and include a white wine made from Riesling and Geisenheim grapes, a sparkling rosé made from Cabernet Franc and Vidal and an orange wine made from Vidal and Gewürztraminer.

Sticking with local wine (including some made with Manitoba grapes, no less), Shrugging Doctor Beverage Co. is collaborating with Loaf and Honey for a wine-and-cheese event taking place Wednesday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. in its tasting room, located at 448-B Brooklyn St. A selection of cheeses will be paired with a range of wines, and Dustin Peltier of Loaf and Honey and Willows Christopher of Shrugging Doctor will talk about their respective products and processes. Tickets are $40 plus taxes and fees are available at

As the weather heats up, rosé becomes the wine of choice for many, myself included. On Wednesday, June 29, De Luca Fine Wines will host an in-store “Rosé All Day” wine-and-food pairing event which, despite its name, doesn’t actually start until 7 p.m. at the wine store, located at 942 Portage Ave. Tickets are $75 and will feature five rosé wines being poured as well as small bites. For tickets visit

On the beer front, the list of sippables being poured at the Flatlander’s Beer Festival has been updated on the website ( And while there are plenty of local offerings, there are a few Winnipeg breweries that appear to have sat out the fest this year. Also of note is this year’s addition of coolers, hard seltzers and the like to the lineup of beer, mead and cider being poured on June 17 and 18 at Canada Life Centre. Tickets are $49.95 plus taxes/fees through Ticketmaster.

For those sticking around this summer, there are a couple of local drinks tastings to put in your calendar. Saturday, July 16, sees the inaugural Gulping Horse Festival take place at Assiniboia Downs from 5 to 10 p.m., featuring a number of local producers as well as food and live entertainment. Advance tickets are $40 plus taxes/fees and are available at

On Saturday, July 23, Shaw Park is hosting Ballpark Brewfest, featuring all Manitoba-made beer (as it does throughout the concourse for all Winnipeg Goldeyes games). Regular-price tickets are $50 and includes samples and admission, starting at 2 p.m.; VIP tickets are available for $80 and include admission an hour earlier. Both options are available through Ticketmaster.

Further down the road, Fort Gibraltar (866 Rue St. Joseph) will once again play host to the Winnipeg Beer Fest, taking place Saturday, Aug. 13. Tickets aren’t yet available, but check in the coming days for more information.

Drinks of the week

If it’s Saturday and you’re reading this, I’m probably somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Italy’s Abruzzo region, where a group of us wine writers, sommeliers and the like are slated to visit a bunch of wineries and taste through all manner of reds and whites. So for this week, here are some tasting notes on a fun range of coolers, hard seltzers and the like for your warm-weather imbibing…

Mike’s Hard Red Freeze (Delta, B.C. — $3.99/473ml cans, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

This vodka-based drink is presumably supposed to harken back to red freezies and, at least in colour, it does. And while it does bring those sweet red-candy fruit notes, there’s a slightly medicinal aroma that’s tough to get by. It’s fairly sweet, and the cherry-cough-syrup component really lingers — drinking it over ice might help. Five per cent alcohol. 2/5

Hector’s Hard Purple Craze Wildberry (Winnipeg — $3.89/473ml can, brewery, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

Made by Fort Garry Brewing Co., this “flavoured alcoholic beverage” with “natural mixed berry flavours” is pale purple in colour and a bit murky, with malty and Flintstone-vitamin aromas. It’s quite sweet and medium-bodied, and while the “purple” Gatorade-like flavours aren’t so bad, a bit less sweetness would be nice. A robust seven per cent alcohol; it also comes in two-litre bottles. 2.5/5

Smirnoff Ice Peach Lemonade (Toronto — $3.99/473ml can, Liquor Marts, beer vendors)

Pale yellow in appearance and hazy, this beverage’s peachy notes on the nose bring back memories of bad decisions in my formative years. It’s light, medium-sweet and quite fizzy, and the peach-candy flavours work well enough over ice, although are a bit too cloying on their own. The lemonade aspect here is minimal; for the most part it’s peach candy all day. Five per cent alcohol. 2.5/5

Georgian Bay Cranberry Gin Smash (Toronto — $3.79/473ml can, Liquor Marts, beer vendors)

Kudos to Georgian Bay for including “best served on the rocks” on the label — as most of these drinks should. This gin-based drink is clear and colourless, and aromatically brings sweet cranberry notes and very modest gin botanicals. It’s mildly sweet and light-bodied, with tasty cranberry flavours and a touch of citrus. Best on ice but decent on its own too. Five per cent alcohol. 3/5

White Claw Pineapple Sparkling Hard Seltzer (Toronto — $16.99/6x355ml cans, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

One of a handful of new flavours launched by White Claw recently, this hard seltzer is clear, devoid of colour and smells like pineapple Life Savers — full stop. It’s off-dry, quite fizzy and light, bringing those pineapple Life Savers flavours… and that’s about it. Five per cent alcohol and, for those who care, just 100 calories per can and five per cent alcohol. Refreshing. 3/5

Super Fun Beverage Co. Pear & Elderflower Hard Seltzer (Winnipeg — $3.49/355ml can, Liquor Marts, beer vendors, Barn Hammer Brewing Co.)

One of four flavours from the new, local Super Fun Beverage Co. made at Barn Hammer on Wall Street, this hard seltzer is clear and devoid of colour, with fresh floral aromas and some pear as well. It’s dry, light-bodied and more complex than the White Claw, with subtle fruit flavours working well with a slight saline note. Some may find this a touch too dry, but not me — it’s quite tasty. 5.5 per cent alcohol. 3.5/5

Twitter: @bensigurdson

Ben Sigurdson

Ben Sigurdson
Literary editor, drinks writer

Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.