Craft at Risk Transcript

[Dale Jarvis]

The project that we’re being recognized for is our Craft at Risk and our Mentor Apprentice program. And this stems from the fact that a lot of our living traditions are in a state of threat. People aren’t quite passing along their craft and knowledge skills in the way that they once did. So the Craft at Risk program was intended to kind of take a bit of a snapshot of what was maybe at risk of being lost, and then to try and find measures to safeguard those traditions and ensure that they got passed along to the next generation.

I think the recognition that comes with this will help valourize some of these traditions. I think it will show producers that their skills are important. One of the things that I run into all the time when I’m talking to practitioners of old crafts or old skills or old bodies of knowledge is, no one really cares. No one needs to know about this old stuff. People tend to devalue the importance that their knowledge has. So awards like this really bring a focus to some of those things and I hope will encourage people to take pride in those things that they carry forward. 

I think it’s very important for the public to engage with history in this way because often people feel that history is something that other people are responsible for and people feel that their own experiences, their own personal family, community histories are somehow less important than the big picture stories.

We really want people to be active participants in their own heritage. We want them to feel that their skills and knowledge are worth carrying on. It’s not just the objects from the past that have value. It’s those traditions and knowledge around how those objects are made that we want people to be proud about and to actively move forward.

[Terra Barrett]

There are 55 skills listed in the Craft at Risk list. Some of the ones who ended up with mentor apprentice pairs were like running birch brooms, boatbuilding, weaving was a big one. There was three weaving pairs and we also did a weaving course in southern Labrador. There was wriggle fences, so we had a wriggle fence. We had three wriggle fence workshops in addition to a pair, two pairs of people who were in the mentor Apprentice program doing wriggle fence making.

It’s a really very specific kind of traditional skills that range from textiles, smaller textile things to like larger building, dry stonewalling. So kind of all over the place, but just traditional skills and how they how they impact our communities. 

All of the mentor apprentice pairs had an oral history interview done. And just being able to reach out to people and learn more about how they learned about their skill, how they pass it on. Just all of the the knowledge that they have and how excited they are to share that. 

We had a lot of great mentor apprentice pairs and as well as instructors for different training activities. And just being able to see those people get excited about people wanting to learn about their particular skill. That was, I think, the most exciting part.

I think it’s really important for community members and for people to participate directly in heritage, because oftentimes heritage or history is seen as something that’s much more top down. It’s something that the government takes care of that official people take care of. It’s not something that’s seen as maybe important to the everyday person when in fact it is. All of those stories that come from your family, all of those traditional skills.

There’s a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have learned how to knit or, you know, add to do different things with Boatbuilding traditional skills have an impact on our everyday life. And so we hope that this award will help people recognize how important it is to get involved in their own history, in their family, in their community, and in their own lives.

What we hope for the last two impact for this project will be just to see these traditions continue to the next generation. Some of these traditional skills, there may be some practitioners, but not a whole lot, or maybe not people who are willing or able to pass that traditional and actually educate people on these traditional skills. And so through the Mentor Apprentice program and all of the different training events that we did, we hope that these skills continue until the next generation.