Annie Cobourne, a beadwork artist and member of the Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta, has a lot of patience. She’s been beading for over 50 years. “I first learned how to bead from my aunt, back when I was 8 or 9. I started with flower necklaces. Since then, I’ve done poppies, earrings, small wallets, dreamcatchers. Our band used to give those away as gifts. I taught myself how to make moccasins. I’ve pretty much tried everything.” Annie laughs, “I like trying different things – I try new crafts all the time! Friends and family come to me to make something for them – sometimes they bring a design and sometimes they just say, ‘Surprise me.’”
But Annie does have a warning for people who want to take up beading, “If you don’t have patience, there’s no point in picking up the needle.” When she was working on her Petro-Canada logo design, she broke at least six needles. “The needles are so thin. And there is a lot of thread on the back to get through. Makes it very stiff to work with.”
When asked about her participation in the Petro-Canada beaded logo project, Annie muses, “It was nice of them to think about me. There are a lot of people beading on the reserve. It’s nice that people know what I do.” Annie also teaches other people to bead, particularly kids and teenagers. “It helps keep them off the street and off drugs.”
She also thinks the initiative could be good for reconciliation.
Annie believes that there is reconciliation work to be done on all sides. “For people to reconcile, they need to deal with their past the best they can and then leave it there. Children are hurting today because they are stuck… My dad taught me to forgive and move on. He never told me if he went to Residential school. He didn’t talk about it because he didn’t want his kids to have to deal with it. He didn’t want it to destroy our lives.”
Ultimately, forgiveness and gratitude are guiding lights for Annie. “People should be thankful that they are here – compared to the ones who never made it home. We need to keep them in our hearts. But I’m pretty sure that those children would not want their families to be stuck in the past… If we can forgive, then we don’t have to live in the past.”