Braiding Stories to Live By: Indigenous Young Women’s Gatherings

Braiding Stories to Live By returns! August 23 to 27th, 2021

Braiding Stories to Live By

Inviting young Indigenous Women to join us again for our long awaited, in-person gathering. In 2019 we created a gathering space for Indigenous young women (10 to 16) and while we enjoyed turning this into a virtual experience to stay connected during the pandemic we CAN’T WAIT to see you in person again. Please join us as we gather for a week of connecting with our Mind.Body.Spirit.Emotions. We will weave traditional teachings with contemporary experiences and begin to embrace and create our individual stories as Indigenous Women. Braiding Stories to Live By is free to join due to generous donations and in collaboration with the University of Alberta.

Register Here

Contact Information:

BSTLB Phone number: 780-715-4694

Kyla Cardinal ~ Co-ordinator/co-creator

Trudy Cardinal ~ Director / co-creator

Quote from director Trudy Cardinal: "This idea of stories to live by is that the stories we are told or that we experience shape our identity and how we live in the world. I was really interested in creating a space where young Indigenous women can come together with multiple generations of women to create this beautiful circle of intergenerational knowledge. So how do we honour that deep wisdom from our ancestors and our culture with who we are in this moment to create a vision of who we want to be in the future?"


The Team:

Meet Dr. Trudy Cardinal

Trudy Cardinal is a Métis/Cree associate professor from Northern Alberta who currently works at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Originally from Slave Lake, she grew up in the communities of Wabasca, Slave Lake and High Prairie. She was an elementary school teacher for 13 years before going on to graduate school to obtain her master's degree, then her doctorate. BSTLB builds on her doctoral research which focused on identity, in particular, the ways Indigenous young women negotiate who they are and are becoming in the midst of the stories told to, by and about them. With her daughter she co-created, the Braiding Stories to Live By ~ Indigenous Young Women's Gatherings. The intent is to co-create, in community, and allow the gathering to unfold and become with the input first of community women, the team, and then with the young women themselves.

Link to an interview with director Trudy Cardinal :

Meet Kyla Cardinal

Kyla is a Métis woman from the town of High Prairie, Alberta. Kyla enjoys practicing a healthy, active lifestyle with her family. Health and fitness keep her balanced but Kyla has also found great value in continuing to learn about her culture and spirituality. Connecting to her roots has been both healing and empowering in her adult life. Her hope is that young women can find these connections to self and with each other earlier in life to understand that we have the tools and teachings within us to walk a good path and to know that together, like a braid of sweetgrass, we are stronger. Kyla attended Grant MacEwan University and since then brings with her a wealth of knowledge gained from various positions that promote her passion for the wellbeing of youth and their families. From her earlier roles such as a Parent Educator in St Albert supporting young moms and their babies, to her current position as an Indigenous Liaison for the Catholic School board, she creates welcoming spaces by bringing her artistic abilities, her creative vision and her ability to connect with children, youth and families. She is enthusiastic about helping to co-create a gathering and a strong intergenerational circle to surround Indigenous young women. Drawing together the people who have guided her along her path in Fort McMurray in the creation of the Braiding Stories to Live By team, Kyla hopes to help create a space where Indigenous young women can come to explore who they are, and who they are becoming.

Meet Treasure Cooper

Treasure Cooper works as the arts and culture coordinator with the Metis local in Fort Mcmurray. Among her favorite groups she leads are the Beading Network and the children's art class at the Nistawoyou friendship center, where she builds the art lessons and projects around the seven traditional teachings. Working with elders and children are among her favorite ways to share her artistic talent.

Treasure is a self taught Metis artist. Her traditional teachings started at home with her mother, learning of the Manito and how to respect the earth and everything upon it. The lessons have continued throughout her life gaining wisdom from elders in her community and her grandfather, Westley Whitford and his stories. She has called Fort McMurray AB home for over 20 years and has raised her family there. Treasure has been part of many group art shows in the Kitchener Art gallery and her sculptures are featured on the Total One Aboriginal Interpretive trail at Macdonald Island. Entitled “Honesty” and “Rose”. She was commissioned to paint the “Education is our Buffalo” mural located at the front entrance of St. Kateri Catholic school, and has her beadwork entitled “Solstice” featured on the cover of Northword magazine.

Quote: “Taking traditions from both the French and Aboriginal people we have built our own unique, rich and vibrant culture. I loved learning that we were known as the flower beadwork people. Traditionally bead work was done in geometric forms but because Metis were taking inspiration from the French embroidery and also from the native wild flowers new patterns were developed and colorful glass beads brought over to Canada were mainly used in these new designs. I wanted to share my love for this artwork and so I represented this with a dot painting technique for the “Mikwakisis” project. I painted a wild rose pattern on my fox “Rose”. She is amongst twenty-seven painted foxes in the maze of paths along the Athabasca river on Mac Island”.
Meet Joelle Erskine

Joelle was born in the small Mi’Kmaq community of Flat Bay (our traditional community name of ewipkek). She was introduced to the indigenous way of life early, by participation in various aspects of the culture including; gatherings, berry picking, hunting, and searching for medicines. As a young member of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, she attended many sunrise ceremonies, workshops related to the Mi’kmaq community as well as drumming and singing events. As her participation in events grew so did her enthusiasm for the culture. As a teen she became the drum carrier for her community and also a member of the Rainbow Thunderbird women’s drum group. Joelle has called Fort McMurray home for 15 years and continues traditional sewing, beading and facilitates an Indigenous women’s circle. She looks forward to empowering and engaging with our youth along their journeys.


The Braiding Stories to Live By project is made possible by donations from Urban Systems Foundation, the BHP Foundation, and Barry and Suneeta Jobanputra through the Aabhaar Fund, as well as several other generous individuals. As a nonprofit, the committee works all year long to keep the cost free, and to be able to continue to offer rich and diverse experiences. If you wish to make a donation you can contact Sean Mowat at and reference the name of the project: Braiding Stories to Live By.