Canadian Multiculturalism Day

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In celebration of Canadian Multiculturalism Day, I (Matea, a summer student) will be sharing a piece of my own family history. I am half Doukhobor and half Croatian, but today, I will be sharing some of my Doukhobor history.

My Grand-Baba, as us great grandchildren called her, was a very talented woman, who had many skills and plenty of knowledge to share. One of her many skills, was being able to masterfully paint shawls. My Great-Grandmother’s family did not have much money, like many families at the time, but she decided to contribute what she could to the well-being of her family and her collective household by painting shawls on commission. She would have her client choose a pattern, which often followed a template she designed, and would paint the chosen pattern on a nylon shawl with oil paints. She created her templates and patterns through seeing beautiful flowers while she was outside and would trace them for future reference. Although the nylon for the shawls were bought, typically many shawls were completely hand-made with linen or flax that they would grow, harvest, and hand-weave or spin. This was a skill that my Grand-Baba’s mother had learned at a very young age, and was often asked to demonstrate this skill at Fall Fairs. The fringe along the edges of the shawl were hand-made, which was a skill in itself, and took lots of patience to perfect.

The shawl that is pictured here is a nylon shawl that my Grand-Baba made for me.