Linda Bristol wanted to see members of the T’Sou-ke First Nation revive the ancient arts and cultural aspects of their heritage. With this aim in mind, back in 2008, she applied for a grant which would allow some workshops to take place at the reserve as well as a mentorship in arts management. She achieved her goal and the revival of Coast Salish arts began.
The first year they started weaving with cedar bark and grasses with a Nitnat elder.
“I was fortunate to have relations of mine who know these things,” said Bristol.
She mentioned Kathy Edgar who makes beautiful traditionally woven baskets and is currently busy getting ready for the T’Sou-Ke Arts Group Christmas Art Show on Dec. 1.
“She is going like crazy making baskets and bells… things she was taught to make since she was little,” said Bristol.
Other cousins came forward in the earlier years to teach wool weaving, knitting and spinning. Bristol gets a little emotional as she talks about the people who came forward to teach others.
“Donna Thomas was our knitting mentor the first year,” said Bristol. “She left an awesome legacy.”
Bristol said Thomas would do her own designs and like most of the mentors, she was patient and willing to share.
Knitting and carving have become rooted in the TAG. Sooke’s Master carver, Victor Newman, has been a mentor as has his son Carey.
TAG meets every Thursday at the T’Sou-ke band office on the reserve and everyone is welcome to participate.
“We still continue. Whatever type of art or craft, come sit with us and share,” added Bristol. “Bring a little refreshment to share with the group.”
It is hoped that a group will come together to add a concession to the annual event. In year’s past they always had salmon and fry bread on the menu.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a fun time for everybody.”
The T’Sou-ke Art Group Christmas Art Sale takes place on Dec. 1 at the band hall on Lazzar Road. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.