Beaded Booties

Decorative/Traditional arts by Lorraine Richard

This pair of beaded booties were created by Irene Richard and donated by Irene’s daughter, Lorraine Richard (Red River Métis). They are a Richard family heirloom Description from donor Lorraine Richard: Irene Richard was born in 1944 and died tragically in 2001. Irene identified and was raised as a proud Metis woman, Ojibwe/Cree. Irene grew up in Vogar Manitoba, moved to Winnipeg and subsequently Vancouver, she was married, widowed and had raised five children until her death. Irene was attending school to attain her MBA when she was killed. Irene came from a life that was humble and meager. She spoke Saulteaux fluently as a first language, practiced and followed traditional medicine (picked, brewed and consumed) and participated in spiritual ceremonies attached to her culture. The crafted beaded booties that are donated are a craft that she mastered from early on from teachings from her mother Mary Spence. This item was her mom’s signature craft. Her mom was very proud of these and were a craft she taught and shared with her daughter and grand kids. Mary Spence (mom to Irene) had no money to offer, no inheritance, she only had this master craft to share. To me this skill and knowledge are priceless. When my grandmother and mom were teaching me to make these, the moments were special. The connection made with these two strong women came with stories and using our language, which are times I remember with love and calmness. The total number of booties that are out in the world are unknown, I have only three left and I’m donating one to the National Inquiry for the world to see. I want future generations to know that this master craft of beadwork was not just a pastime or means of income, but it came from a spiritual place that was natural and with care. That through an existence of poverty and less than, that over time, an item like this is cherished and becomes priceless to the remaining family members, especially when the loved one is tragically taken. Mary Spence lost her only daughter tragically, endured the pain of outliving her only child. The booties donated represent women of perseverance, mastery and strength. I would like the world to remember Irene Richard, Mary Spence and my father who left this world too early and should have a place in history. Irene Richard was a kind, caring, loving person. She deserved a long life, but that was not to be.