Prevention workers working together on common threads

Posted: March 14th, 2018

The humming of sewing machines takes over the space. If it wasn’t for that, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone is focused with their heads down and eyes fixed to their projects. The quilts being made this day, February 27th, vary in colour and design, some are bright and made for babies while others are seasonal and spring-like. These quilts, and the sewing machines at the hands of these Prevention Coordinators, will make the journey to their new homes in a few days.

“I have always wanted to learn how to sew and complete a project,” said Jessalyn Cook, Prevention Services Coordinator in Cat Lake. “This training taught me the basics of sewing and how to operate a sewing machine. As a newbie to sewing, I was somewhat nervous but determined to complete the quilting project.”

The sewing machines will not only complement prevention unit sewing programs already in place, but they are all new, with modern bells and whistles. This, says Prevention Services Administrator Florette Turpin, was a major reason staff needed training before they could really get comfortable with them and, in turn, be able to train clients back home in their community and problem solve any issues that come up with the machines.

“It’s been at least six years since we’ve bought new sewing machines and even then the older ones weren’t the best quality. Additionally, parts go missing over time, so these new machines were much needed by the prevention staff,” said Turpin.

“It was very helpful getting to know the functions on it,” added Cook, “Learning how to set it up, learning about the sewing machine accessories (I would not have guess one is for a button hole!), how to make thread bobbins, how to thread the machine, how to clean off any lint the in bobbin area, reversing, changing foots and needles, and more.”

Turpin explained more about the benefit of bringing the prevention workers together for the training as they learned the basics of the new machines and the steps involved in making a quilt, resulting in a new skill they could teach community-members.

“Each community is different. Some communities have evening classes, some have daytime classes. Some communities hold Elders’ sewing groups and some teach young parents how to sew. Now that we’ve learned the basics of quilting we can use this project to bring something new to communities,” Turpin added.

The new machines all went back to the communities, along with the quilting materials as well as donated materials generously provided by Tikinagan employee Diane Derkson and her quilting group.

Cook added that another benefit of the two-day training session was coming together with other Coordinators.

“I also enjoyed meeting with our Prevention Services Coordinators from different communities. They all have different levels/experiences with sewing and they were also a big help, especially to me as a beginner.”

Turpin wished to thank Diane Derkson, the staff who participated in the training and committed to their projects, and the Training Unit Staff.

“They picked out nice fabric, Joni and Alex, and they made sure we had a lovely lunch too,” said Turpin. “And of course we have to thank the instructor, Hazel Mills, who is an excellent teacher and has the patience of a saint,” she laughed.

Cook also deeply appreciated the instructor.

“Our instructor was absolutely fabulous! She was outgoing, approachable, and explained all the steps to make a quilt. She was quick to lend a helping hand when you were unsure what the next step was. She definitely enjoys and respects the craft of quilting. She was also very accommodating, and invited the group back the next day to complete the quilts,” said Cook.

“At the end of the training, I was able to complete the baby quilt!” Cook added. “As small as it may be, I am proud that I had the opportunity to learn and make one. The sewing machines were purchased by Tikinagan Child and Family Services and we were able to bring back a sewing machine to our community.”

Turpin is excited about possible future training for the Prevention Coordinators and had a lot of feedback from the participants hoping for more opportunities supported by the training unit. Some ideas for future training included babysitting certification, safe food handling, organizational skill, computer skills/technology, as well as traditional skills like beading, herbal medicines, and making hand drums.

“The training unit is always there to support all of Tikinagan’s services and programs,” said Rodney Howe, Training Service Manager. “We’re really excited to get feedback from Prevention Coordinators with training they’d like to see and we hope to continue putting on more training that will not only enhance each coordinator’s skills but ultimately give back to each community and see more prevention activities which celebrate our culture and the values we promote in our service model, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin.”