Our project was to engage the guests at the Big House Feast and the delegates at the Symposium in the creation of two pairs of shoes, symbolic of the journey and intended as a legacy of the event.
The first pair is a riff on the classic oxford, made by about a dozen different people out of plants from around Vancouver and coastal BC: east Van linen, spruce root, cedar bark, new zealand flax, day lily. They were made to fit Ruth Howard, one of the conference's organizers, and we hope that she'll wear them stepping on and off the train at each stop across Canada.
The shanks of the boots are just English ivy cords right now, made of ivy that I harvested in my neighbourhood and secured with a rim of plaited red cedar the the top. Our intention is that the shanks of the boots should be filled in by delegates at all the different stops across the country, adding in materials from their communities, in either plain weave or whatever fancy technique they can contribute. Two of the delegates going on the train have been entrusted as the keepers of the boots, leading the activity and collecting the names and stories of the contributors.
Instead of wearing down from the journey, these boots will be built up, enriched, and made stronger.
I look forward to meeting them again at their journey's end.