“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
An informative and unforgettable experience. That’s how Brenda Brooks describes her in-person experience called Teachings of the Dream Catcher through the 101 Experiences platform.
“I am teaching them how to make their own dream catcher as well as showing them where that originated from,” says Brooks.
Brooks says it is a process that can take up to three hours and requires a lot of patience.
“They will start with a piece of hide and I teach them how to cut it so that they can make stripping so that you only need a circle. You cut around the circle until you have all the lacing that you need,” she says.
“From there they will learn how to wrap around the circle so that its nice and neat and tidy and they will put together the webbing. That part along with the beads and the charms are all very individual, that part is where they will really let their creative side come out.”
Brooks adds the final piece is to put on the feathers.
“I have real feathers which is a lot better than artificial feathers. You put that all together and you get your own personalized perfect dream catcher. You have to take your time so that you end up with something that you’re proud of.”
Brooks has been making Dream Catchers for close to 30 years.
“I went on a spiritual retreat at the Anishnabek Spiritual Centre in Espanola about 30 years ago and that’s where I was introduced to a lot of crafts that I loved and admired for so long. It just became a passion and a sensation to be able to make my own and so I started making them and I couldn’t stop making them because it was a way for me to continue to express myself,” she says.
Brooks adds even after 30 years she says she finds herself “making things that are completely original. My passion is just creating something that is traditional; I’m very traditional about how I want my dream catchers to be.”
And now she wants to share that passion and creativity with everyone as her experiences are now live on the Airbnb site and available to book through 101 Experiences, starting July 24th.
“Abby Cook (creator of 101 Experiences) approached me about the 101 Experiences, I guess she thought that I had enough of a passion because I have done this for so many years.”
Brooks has delivered this workshop in the community before. She says, “I have taught some workshops at Amelia Rising for the women there. They really enjoyed it and wanted me to come back and it gave them a sense of pride to see what they had created and it made them feel really good. I thought that by expanding and letting other people into my little world of wonder that I would be branching out and teaching to more people than I have been.”
Cook says when she was creating the 101 Experiences platform, Brooks was one of the first people she thought of that could host an experience.
“I have been friends with Brenda’s oldest son Dillon since we were about 12, I basically grew up at Brenda’s house, she was like a second mom to me,” says Cook.
“I was always getting to see her crafts and the creative things she would do. When I moved home from the East Coast I went over to her home and into her sunroom that is just full of dream catchers. I bought one for myself and for my mom and I’ve just always been drawn to her creativity and the amazing work she has done.”
Cook says she had a talk with Brooks and she was interested in putting something together.
“Now, here we are, just over two months later and we’re live now on Airbnb. We’re so happy to also have an Indigenous experience with our platform here in North Bay, that was really important for us and we’re happy to have helped Brenda create that,” says Cook.
“It’s very unique to our area as well. You get to go to Brenda’s house which is full of amazing Indigenous art and her books are there and she’s going to do a smudge and that’s what both Airbnb and 101 Experiences are striving for, is intimate, sustainable, passionate experiences hosted by passionate locals.”
She also says there could be other crafts workshops Brooks offers down the line.
“Dream catchers are definitely her passion but she also does a lot of other amazing Indigenous crafts and so we’re hoping we can convince her to offer another experience after this one as well.”
Brooks says there is no better feeling than seeing someone be able to create something and take pride in it.
“With my instruction and being able to keep it as a small group, I can be hands-on with each individual so that if they make a mistake, I can back them up and they can start again. The feeling at the end of it is usually ‘wow, I did this, this is great!’” They are amazed and proud of themselves and they feel connected to all those things that they used to make it with,” says Brooks.
Brooks is excited to be able to welcome people into her home and take part in a very unique activity.
“It will be nice for people to come in and feel comfortable in the home and have them see some of the things that I do have that might interest them as well as show them all of the dream catchers that I have made and hopefully that would be an inspiration to their own creativity,” she says.
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