Kevin A. Menicoche
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise this afternoon to commemorate the life and work of the late Sarah Hardisty, a well-respected Aboriginal elder and respected artist of Jean Marie River.
On a special note, she created the band of porcupine quill work that adorns our own territorial Mace.
Sarah Hardisty was born in Jean Marie River in July 1924 when the community was little more than a summer gathering place. Her family lived a traditional life, spending summers in Jean Marie and winters at Fish Lake. Although Sarah recalls many hardships, she fondly recalled a much simpler time and lifestyle.
Sarah married William Hardisty in 1941 and they had 12 children, four of whom have since passed on. When her husband passed away in 1961, she was left to raise eight children. With no formal education or social assistance, she drew strength from her faith, her community and had sheer determination to provide for her family.
Like many Dene women of her generation, Sarah began sewing when she was nine. She could prepare and tan a moosehide by the time she was 12. Sarah’s income was from selling moccasins and other traditional clothing she handmade. She quickly gained a reputation of being one of the best sewers in the region with porcupine quill work being her expertise.
Sarah was a testament to the traditional Dene woman. She touched many lives and inspired many women with her humour, soft-spoken words and wisdom while she was working with them.
Sarah taught workshops and sewing classes at the Jean Marie River school. She loved to travel and demonstrate her quill work in New Mexico, Washington and Arizona.
During the 1970s Sarah belonged to the Jean Marie River Native Arts Group that exhibited their traditional arts in places as far away as Toronto. Among her proudest achievements was making a traditional Dene outfit for the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa in 1988 and stitching a porcupine quill territorial crest out of moosehide that was presented to Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Visit in 1994.
Sarah received various awards over the years and most recently the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medallion presented at a ceremony in Jean Marie River last year in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Aboriginal arts and culture.
In a sad turn of events, Sarah passed away February 9th . She is survived by her children,
numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, countless relatives and friends who cherished her hard work and a place she continues to hold in each of our lives.
On behalf of her family who call her “Ama,” she will be greatly missed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.