First Nations University instructor connects to Métis heritage through beadwork More After reconciling with her own Métis heritage, Merelda Fiddler-Potter is using beadworking as a way to practise reconciliation and connect with her culture on an everyday level.
"I’ve kind of been at reconciliation for a long time without really knowing that that’s what it was," said Fiddler-Potter to CBC Radio One’s The Morning Edition.
Fiddler-Potter is an instructor at the First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina, who teaches the history of Canada’s residential schools and the path to reconciliation.
The former CBC journalist said her parents divorced when she was young and many older relatives who could have connected her to her history died before they could teach her.
Once she went to university she sought to connect with her roots. She discovered her family has a rich history. Her ancestors fought in the Red River Rebellion and the Battle of Batoche.
She said she learned her family didn’t talk about that history because they were afraid of retaliation after fighting for their rights in the resistance.
"I want my kids to have what I didn’t have, but in order for me to give them that, I’m going to have to put in the work to learn it myself," she said.
After some encouragement from elders at the First Nations University, she brought her grandmother’s old beadwork and began learning herself.
She said she wishes she knew how to do it all along.
"For a very long time, people were taught not to be proud of who we are. This is a little piece of me just feeling proud … it’s just so rewarding because in the end you look back and think, ‘I did that,’ " said Fiddler-Potter.
"That’s part of what reconciliation is about for me. I don’t ever speak for other people, but for me, it’s putting in the effort to know who I am to tell people about us — to make history more fulsome."
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