Feather Dance: Unveiling Celebration

Updated: Jun 15

Five Indigenous-designed liturgical stoles were unveiled at St. Hildegard's Sanctuary yesterday afternoon, the culmination of a year-long collaborative arts-based reconciliation project. The Feather Dance project was designed and directed by Indigenous artist/designer Rikki Kooy who captivated those gathered with her stories of the genesis of the project, the design process, Northwest Coast Indigenous symbolism, and the transformative capacity of art-making. We will certainly share what we can of those stories in the future, but for now, here are a few snapshots of the celebration.

Racelle Kooy, Indigenous leader and daughter to Feather Dance project lead Rikki Kooy.

Racelle Kooy opened the celebration with song and gave a moving tribute to her mother, Rikki. She gave thanks for the many ways her Secwepemc- St’atl’imc mother demonstrated perseverance, faith, and generosity and modeled what it is to live a life of service to others.

Rikki Kooy with the stoles still under wraps. Rikki Kooy is of the Frog Clan, so it was fitting that she chose a wrap she designed with the gifted art of Robert Davidson to cover the stoles during her introductory remarks.

Rikki Kooy offering teaching on the symbolism employed in her design work.

The unveiling moment! Rikki draws back the Frog wrap covering.

Rikki Kooy tells the story and vision behind the white Journey stole.

With each of the five stoles, Rikki told the story of its design from end to end, talking us through the symbols employed. Every stole is a unique expression of her vision and prayer for the ongoing work of reconciliation.

Future posts will focus on each stole in turn, with some of the details we heard at the celebration.

Rikki speaks of reconciliation as "hands extended in peace and friendship."

Rikki, here with the red Transformation Healing stole, tells the story of the hummingbird, symbolic of the one who brings healing.

Rikki with the green Transition stole for Ordinary Time. We lovingly called this stole "Love's Waiting Room" during the creation process.

Rikki demonstrates the interaction of the hands in the design of the blue Love Reflected stole—where hands are extended in peace and friendship.

Rikki speaks of the inspiration to include two large hummingbird symbols on the purple Reverence stole.

All five stoles are Rikki Kooy's original art and design while also bearing the handwork of the community of St. Hildegard's Sanctuary. Over the course of several gatherings, Rikki guided the collaborative elements of the creative process. If you could see these stoles up close, you'd notice that they bear tiny stitched crosses as emblems of the many whose lives were lost or irrevocably harmed in Residential Schools.

The Feather Dance stoles together: (from L to R) Transition, Reverence, Transformation Healing, Journey, and Love Reflected. All designed by Rikki Kooy.

The stoles will be worn by Reverend Melanie Calabrigo, the gathering priest of St. Hildegard's Sanctuary.

In addition to the collaboratively created stoles, Rikki undertook the design and production of a banner for the community of St. Hildegard's Sanctuary. This commission was part of the Feather Dance project funding but not part of the community collaboration so we were all very excited to see what Rikki had created in her home studio on Texada Island.

Rikki Kooy with the banner for St. Hildegard's Sanctuary.

Just as the stoles represent the community's desire to be ever-mindful of the work of reconciliation—to listen, learn, repent, grieve, and be agents of change—this banner will remind us of our commitment to building and nourishing relationships of respect, peace, love, and justice with Indigenous Peoples, especially with the Coast Salish peoples on whose lands we dwell.

Rikki Kooy with the community banner calling us to be ever mindful of the work of reconciliation.

The afternoon's festivities included time to take a closer look at the banner and liturgical stoles, to personally express our appreciation for the generous heart and hands of our beloved project lead, Rikki Kooy, and to enjoy the fabulous catering of Mr. Bannock! We also had a small silent auction to begin fund-raising to continue with future Feather Dance collaborative projects.

Guests taking a closer look at the Feather Dance banner and stoles.

There was also the exciting announcement that Rikki Kooy has agreed to be in ongoing relationship with the community of St. Hildegard's Sanctuary as mentoring elder. We are deeply grateful for her willingness to guide us as we continue to walk together on the paths of healing and reconciliation.

In the evening service later in the day, Melanie Calabrigo anointed Rikki Kooy's hands in a commissioning service.

On behalf of the community, I extend deep gratitude to all those who came to celebrate the completion of this Feather Dance project. We are also grateful for the support of the Sacred Arts Trust of the Anglican Foundation of Canada and the many grassroots donors who made this project possible. We look forward to welcoming you to further gatherings!

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