Every season of the year, we partner with a local woman artist to bring arts and creativity to the Women’s Centre. This month we sat down with our Fall Artist in Residence Jackie Carrier to get to know her and learn her story! Jackie will be hosting a Dream Catcher Making Workshop at the Centre on November 29 – learn more here!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My full name is Jacqueline Carrier, but I prefer Jackie, and I have a nickname that has a story behind it. Jake. I was born into a very large family, mostly boys, which taught me respect, my role in our native culture, and various trade lessons. My uncle Ken showed me horsemanship, the life and how to respect animals combined with Mother Earth. My great-grandfather, Marius, who was born in March 1900, told me stories of his life about the first time he saw a car, how he saw all the Bison that roamed the prairies. He was my first teacher, then my Grandfather, Clifford, guided me to where I am now. My father died too soon to further those lessons. My teacher now is my best friend, my life partner, Chris. He furthered my knowledge of carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and electrical components. He has shown me great ways of renovating and landscaping.
We’ve been together since 1995, 23 years. Moving to Bridgeland we lived across the from the Women’s Centre, my life changed and I remembered the talks I had with my grandfathers, they said to me, ‘everything happens for a reason.’
When did you start coming to Women’s Centre?
I believe I started coming to the Women’s Centre in ’96 and was greeted by Susan Gillies. I used to not be able to talk to people, I was so shy. Because of all my trauma. But Susan Gillies is the one that brought me out of my shell. But as soon as I walked into this Centre, I would get a warm feeling from all the women. I figured it out with Susan, I’ve been here for 21 years! The stories we could tell you!
I was one who needed a helping hand and I turned to the Women’s Centre for the years I got. In these times bills can get out of hand. No matter if you have a job, every time you think things will be OK, something changes! Not every family can live on one income because of such inflation across the board. Jobs come and go but we got through tough times emotionally. I credit the Women’s Centre for giving me the strength so I could keep Chris and I on the right track.
What has been your relationship with the Centre over the years? What does the Centre mean for you?
I have two homes, my house and the Women’s Centre. I never had a cell phone because you either called my house or the Women’s Centre to find Jackie. I lived across the street, but I was here all the time.
Tell us about the art you do? How did you get started?
I am a Native artist of many facets. There was a workshop offered at the Women’s Centre 15 years ago which brought the artist in me into the world full-blown; my life will never be the same. The workshop was on making dreamcatchers. Since then, I have created oil paintings, turquoise jewelry, carvings, beading, Native regalia, drawings—charcoal, pencil—and clothing designs.
Your workshop during your residency will be about making dreamcatchers. Can you tell us why these are meaningful to you?
My grandmother taught me how to make dreamcatchers, practicing with yarn around the ring. And it stuck with me but I didn’t do it again until the Women’s Centre had a dreamcatcher workshop. I signed up, and it came back to me. The first dreamcatcher I made I gave to my husband and he still has it up on our wall. I was itching to do something, other than just work, and I kept seeing these activities to do at the Centre, the old location. When I would go for my walks around the neighbourhood and the river I would find jewelry. My sister gave me her leather jacket and I made something out of it. So I started making dream catchers, out of these things, reusing different things so it’s not going to waste, and have been doing it ever since, for 21 years. Because I’m part Sioux, I made a dreamcatcher Sioux warrior with a feather. I’ve been doing different things, like heart shaped ones, 3D. I taught myself. Sometimes I dream of the dream catchers. I give them away to someone who’s meant to have it.
You have also be donated one of your creations to Centre. Can you tell us about that?
I just made a Women’s Centre dreamcatcher in our colours, purple and green, to hang on the Centre’s wall. This purple and green dream catcher came to me in my dreams. I woke up the next day and opened my supplies and there was purple and green leather sitting on top. And I thought, I have to make a dreamcatcher for the Women’s Centre! A few days later, Amanda who coordinates the Women’s Centre Artist in Residence program called me up after we hadn’t talked in a while and asked me to be the Fall Artist. It was meant to be!
Why do you think sharing your Cree-Sioux stories through art and workshops is important to the Women’s Centre?
The workshops I have done over the years are Native pieces of art handed down to the person who will teach others so as to pass it on and not be lost. I am very spiritual woman that has been given a chance to spread my ideas and knowledge to others through my stories as well as through art. Having so many stories to tell, women hear them in my workshops as well as when I just come for a visit. Some women have come to thank me for a story I told that made a difference in their lives and every time that I happens, I cry, a happy cry.
In my workshops, every person has their own ideas of their own dreamcatchers. I’ve seen so many beautiful ones in the workshops we’ve done. These dreamcatcher workshops give women hope, because once they know they can create something like that, they know that they can create a life for themselves. A woman made hers and she came up to show it to me, she was so proud of it. It gives them strength and hope, because they keep coming back and they want to try again. They have to create something to feel like they can further themselves.
What are you most excited about for your residency at the Women’s Centre?
You have no idea what this means to me! I am so into spreading the word of being a strong woman and how you can become anything you want to be. Any obstacle a woman will encounter, I want to be there to break that barrier for the future she deserves. As you grow older you change, I notice that big time.
What does Indigenous feminism and reconciliation mean to you?
If it weren’t for women we wouldn’t be here. Who brought you into this world? A woman. Who looked after you? A woman. A mother is one that keeps you alive, like mother earth, an entity of a woman is the greatest thing in this world, I think. Native men of the past had a great respect for women because of our strength and resilience. Through my art I keep women in mind, like my dreamcatcher I call ‘Sioux Warrior,’ it is a woman warrior. My brothers, grandfather and Chris absolutely loved it.
I am one of the few women in my family and I fought to keep the respect of the boys, which I got. Seeing some women kept back from being educated and pursuing their dreams just made me follow my mother, who got her education and knows five languages and fostered children. I pursued my education and got involved with different groups that want to give back. I am proud to be affiliated with the Women’s Centre because they give women a chance at a better life. Equality for women in this century is changing for a future of women leaders, that is feminism to me. Proud to be a woman and a teacher of Native Art.