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Sewing with Our Ancestors:
Heirloom Fire Bags from the Flower Beadwork People
This exhibition featured 14 fire bags, created by Métis beadwork artists & community members from across BC through the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and Language's Fire Bag Workshop Series. The series was taught by Métis artist Gregory Scofield. Over the span of 18 weeks, participants learned how to create a Métis-style fire bag. The bags were showcased at the Métis Art Wall at MNBC's Headquarters in Surrey and online in a virtual exhibition.

Artists featured (in alphabetical order): Carly Jones, Carly Nabess, Carmen Leeming, Gregory Scofield, Haley Bassett, Jakob Knudsen, Jo-Ina Young, Kaija Heitland, Kim Gullion Stewart, Linda Van Wieringen, Lisa Shepherd, Mallory Blondeau, Marlene Kelly, Tegan Whitesel.
About Fire/Octopus Bags
Métis fire bags or octopus bags are a Métis heritage art that is based on the "bags of many legs" from the Saulteaux. These bags were originally called "fire bags" because they were used to carry flint, steel, tobacco, pipes, and/or ammunition. By the mid 1800's, Métis people were making fire bags across the northern Plains, the Yukon, and along the Columbia River. Historians theorize that the name "octopus bag" was given by the Tlingit Nation during this time as Métis traders introduced them to the Northwest coast.

Historically, these bags were constructed using two panels of black woolen Stroud cloth (or black velvet) which was beaded and edged with silk ribbon. Métis octopus bags are an important part of Métis history and culture. Today, octopus bags are making a resurgence as more and more Métis artists pick up this important heritage art.*
*The information provided came from Lawrence Barkwell's 2010 publication titled "Métis Octopus Bags", published by the Louis Riel Institute.

**Information used in this writeup was adapted from MNBC's Kaa-Wiichihitoyaahk: Métis Perspectives on Cultural Wellness, 2020.
Banner Image: Carrie Gabriele, 2023.