I remember snippets of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland creeping their way into my childhood. I remember dreaming about falling down a rabbit hole. I remember thinking about how delicious a rabbit tastes. I remember the eating of the cookies and the drinking of the liquids, and the shrinking and the growing. I remember the confusion, and I remember Alice meeting the Mad Hatter. Laughable, slightly off, eccentric. Doesn’t fit in. Doesn’t blend.
Only years later, I recognize a kindred soul.
Looking back at that memorable scene – that Mad Hatter Tea Party – I find myself thinking critically, more and more, on this. An outsider falling into another world and getting frustrated when the rules and structures don’t make sense, trying to implement their sense of propriety on the matters. Sounds familiar, eh.
It was with this little idea that a talented crew and I started dreaming up a creative session, featuring a Métis youth from Duck Lake. I first noticed Danitra thanks to Facebook. Her Grandma is one of my Mom’s high school friends, and she wore this stunning yellow gown for her graduation. I quickly creeped her and asked her Grandma to give Danitra my cell, and we went from there.
With an all-Indigenous team (hair by Shayla Weisbrot of The Salon 467, Duck Lake and makeup by Kacey Beaudry, MUA, Saskatoon), and with the multi-talented Alexandra George (former guest blogger) as our behind-the-scenes photographer and set designer, we managed to create a little bit of magic.
A little bit of Indigenous magic.
And I think it was from the stories and community that this session carried. Nothing I do comes without stories. Shayla tied sweetgrass from my various journey’s into Danitra’s hair as we sat around her kitchen table, sipping coffee. Kacey and her pile of makeup stood in front of the house where we would run around with our cousins, laughing as my cousin Alex jumped on the wooden table to start decorating the set. We integrated a beaded teabag from Catherine Blackburn (former guest blogger). We rocked earrings from Savage Rose, and decorated the set with beadwork from Beads, Rhymes, Life. We were borrowed a beautiful birch bark basket from Silver Wolf Trading Post. We ate local donuts and fry bread from the Beardy’s Gas Station. Alex created a faded and wrinkled Royal Proclamation, as well as planted teapots full of succulents. She put together a bouquet of wild, dried flowers and found feathers. I used sage gifted to me by the Women’s Shelter from Walpole Island, On. My late Grandma’s camera was snuck in there, as was a crystal sugar cube dish, reminiscent of the one that we used to sneak candy out of at my late Grandparent’s house. We decorated a hat with my daughter’s Métis sash and a hawk feather from a friend. We were on our land, land that my mom was raised on. My Aunt and Uncle laughed and teased us, helping us with the roses, the moving of tables, and entertaining the neighbours as they stopped in to see what we were doing. Oh, I love small communities.
And as the sun set, and the session ended, we laughed together.
“Do you feel good about this?” I asked Danitra, shooting the last image.
“I feel amazing. I couldn’t have imagined this.”
– tenille campbell