Feather Dance: Reconciling


The community of St. Hildegard's Sanctuary was delighted to focus on the ongoing Feather Dance textile arts project for our annual Lenten retreat day on March 9, 2019. This was our third handwork-and-stories gathering with Rikki Kooy—the Indigenous artist/designer lead for the Feather Dance Project—and we quickly settled into the gentle rhythm of listening, learning, and making that has marked each gathering.


Rikki Kooy, lead artist/designer of the Feather Dance textile arts project, describes the creatures and symbols on the blue stole.

Melanie Calabrigo, our gathering priest, set the tone of the day with these words from Richard Wagamese's EMBERS: One Ojibway's Mediations:

From our very first breath, we are in relationship. With that indrawn draft of air, we become joined to everything that ever was, is and ever will be. When we exhale, we forge that relationship by virtue of the act of living. Our bring commingles with all breath, and we are a part of everything. That’s the simple fact of things. We are born into a state of relationship, and our ceremonies and rituals are guides to lead us deeper into that relationship with all things.


I’ve been considering the phrase ‘all my relations” for some time now. It’s hugely important. It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other. the most important word is “all.” Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL by relations. that means every person, just as it means every rock, mineral, blade of grass, and creature. we live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal each of us—and heal the planet.


Melanie reminded us of the call and responsibility of relationship—with others, with the Holy, and with ourselves—drawing particular attention to the focus of the Feather Dance project: Reconciliation.

Rikki affirmed the focus on relationship with a gift of sage from her family's territory. She gave each one of us a pinch of sage, inviting us to contemplate our connection to the land and to Creator in "the aroma of relationship" and then gathered the sage again, into a bowl, to be lit by fire as a sign of cleansing and blessing.


Rikki told us about her own creative process—from contemplation and prayer to design—and offered stories of the creatures and symbols depicted on the stoles. Hummingbird for healing. Frog as spirit helper. Hands reaching. Hands holding. Tears falling. And we listened and we stitched, needles and thread and hearts held in sacred relationship.


Some photos from our day together follow.


Rikki tells the story behind the design of the "Transfer of Healing" stole.



The "Love's Waiting Room" stole bears multiple frog designs. The frog is the sign of Rikki's mother's clan and a symbol of Spirit Helper.



In addition to honouring Indigenous Spirituality in the design of each stole, participants stitched memorial crosses into the fabric to acknowledge and repent of the traumatic past and and ongoing impact of Residential Schools.



Please join us for the special event on June 23rd when all of the Feather Dance stoles will be revealed in a celebratory feast. All are welcome! Sunday, June 23, 3pm, at St. Faith's Anglican Church, 7284 Cypress Street (at 57th), Vancouver.





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 St. Hildegard's Sanctuary is an inclusive, arts-based, contemplative Christian community.  All are welcome! 

You can reach us at sthildegards@icloud.com.