These unique poppies honour veterans and Indigenous culture

EDMONTON — “A lot of labour of love, one. Time. And then all the materials that you put into it,” says Rebecca Powder, holding a beaded poppy in her hands.

“For example, this one has a dyed elk bone and dyed deer hide on the back, with glass sea beads.”

Indigenous Cree beaded poppies

This poppy – whose edges are outlined with black beads – is the most popular of four styles she makes and sells.

She made the first two-and-a-half years ago, in honour of her aunt Elizabeth Janvier who served with the Canadian Air Force in Trenton during the Korean War – service, Powder says, which often seems like an unconventional part history.

“I think it is not mainstream for Indigenous women to be in the military,” the artist told CTV News Edmonton.

“She was just a really strong inspirational role model for me. She taught me how to sew, to cook, lots of things.”

Indigenous Cree beaded poppies

Sabrina Williams says a similar thing of beading and her family.

Her kokum taught Williams beadwork when she was just eight years old.

And in honour of her nine mushums (grandfather figures) who served in the Second World War, Williams donates part of her poppy proceeds to the Saskatchewan Indigenous Veterans Fund.

“Not only is beading part of our regalia and our culture, but it does reflect and the soul and the feeling and the emotion a person is putting into it. So when I bead a poppy, the emotion that goes into it is the pride and the respect that I have for my grandfather,” Williams told CTV News Edmonton.

Indigenous Cree beaded poppies

“When I’m sitting and beading for four hours on a poppy, or if I’m making earrings, I just remember when my grandmother used to do it, and how she felt.

“And now I feel how she feels, only 30 some years later.”

Indigenous Cree beaded poppies

The Cree women both sell their products at the Indigenous Artists Collective on the second floor of Edmonton’s Downtown Farmers’ Market.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Galen McDougall

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