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Beading celebration to support survivors

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PABLO — With April designated as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” SAFE Harbor and partners are creating a new way to bring awareness and community support to honor survivors. This year they will use beadwork. 

“We thought about beadwork in the sense that it’s inspiring, it’s timeless. It’s been a part of indigenous communities since the 16th century, so we thought it’d be a chance to remember those artists who create those images, using their imaginations to literally transform hundreds of tiny objects into a magnificent visual creation,” Dana Grant of Safe Harbor explained. “We thought about how everyday survivors work to find their own vision, and that’s kind of how we’re connecting it. How survivors are able to rebuild their lives, and find a vision forward that really helps them try to overcome the trauma and the challenges they face after being attacked.”

Put together by the Salish Kootenai College Art Department and Center for Prevention and Wellness, the Spirit of Many Colors, the SKC Student Senate, and Journey to Wellness in partnership with SAFE Harbor, the Beautiful Beadwork Celebration aspires to become an annual event. Planned for April 13 from 1-7 p.m. in the Sherri McDonald Room of SKC, everyone is welcome display their beadwork. 

Beaders interested in participating may bring up to five pieces and arrange their displays however they wish. Set up will take place in the morning from 10 a.m. to noon. There’s no charge to participate. Staff volunteers will be available to watch tables throughout the day to keep the beadwork safe and secure. 

“Those who have not experienced (sexual assault) sometimes don’t understand what that trauma’s like and what it takes,” Grant commented. “Survivors demonstrate so much courage as they recover from assault. In the same way, beadwork is an enduring cultural symbol, something that people recognize immediately, they see the strength in it … People have treasured pieces from the 1800s that they know are linked to a certain area, the designs that are known – whether it’s southwest, whether it’s floral designs of the Salish – they’re all kind of woven together. And they’ve shown resiliency from a population for all that time, and survivors have that same resiliency.”

Some historic beadwork will be on exhibit, and at approximately 3 p.m. a panel of beaders will discuss their work and its significance. A reception will be held at about 5 p.m. to celebrate the gathering.

To register ahead of time for a display space during the beadwork celebration, email: or call 406-240-0640. Registration is not required as there will be space for walk ins during set up. The event is free and open to all.  

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