Sierra William (left) with her grandmother Eileen William. (Roger William photo)

Sierra William (left) with her grandmother Eileen William. (Roger William photo)

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Sierra William

Xeni Gwet’in woman finds strength in tradition

Sierra William, 18, feels a profound sense of strength and peace when she wears or creates a traditional Indigenous ribbon skirt.

The young woman of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation spends her free time making ribbon skirts when she’s not busy during the week with her post-secondary studies or her fast-food job in Williams Lake over the weekend.

Her love of the work that goes into making ribbon skirts, which are considered sacred, began at a young age through observing her grandmother, Eileen William, who would also sew jingle dresses and fancy dance regalia and make moccasins, gloves and purses.

Each ribbon skirt takes an undetermined length of time to complete.

“When you’re making it, you can’t put any of that negative energy into it,” William said.

“Any time you’re feeling angry or frustrated, you have to take a step back because when you’re making them, you’re putting your energy into them—if I’m making it for someone, they can feel the energy from what you made them.”

William only started making ribbon skirts two years ago.

“When I moved to Williams Lake, some of my friends started having ribbon skirts, and I always loved how pretty and how colorful they are,” William said, adding she had seen the ignited pride of ribbon skirts on social media.

William is currently trying to learn more about beading and making ribbon skirts decorated with fabric pieces that form pictures or patterns (appliqués) such as horses, women, trees or fish.

She also makes ribbon shirts and masks and is working on creating a jingle dress and fancy dress regalia of her own.

Over the next five years, William hopes to obtain her Bachelor of Arts and complete her Bachelor of Social Work.

“They support 100 percent of what I am doing,” she said of her proud parents Shannon Stump-William and Roger William, a former Xeni Gwet’in chief.

“My parents were foster parents, and just the stories of what foster kids have been through—I feel like there are not many First Nations social workers around here, and there needs to be more First Nations helping each other out.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Arts and cultureFirst Nations womenIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members from the BC Wildfire Service and the Williams Lake Fire Department are conducting controlled burns at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds and at Boitanio Park today, April 20, in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Fire department, wildfire service, conducting controlled burns in Boitanio Park, Stampede Grounds April 20

Locations include at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds and in Boitanio Park

Smoke rising from a slash pile near Canim-Hendrix Road on Tuesday, April 20. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Blaze on Canim-Hendrix Lake Road a false alarm

The smoke was coming from a legal under-control slash pile

Jason and Pharis Romero’s latest album <em>Bet on Love</em> garnered three Canadian Folk Music Awards. Here Patrick Metzger, bass, from left, Jason, Pharis and Marc Jenkins perform at Arts on the Fly 2019 in Horsefly. Both Metzger and Jenkins performed on the album, as well as John Reischman on mandolin. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Romeros’ latest album garners three Canadian Folk Music Awards

Recorded in Horsefly, Bet on Love was released in May 2020

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

The Nazko River is under a flood warning. (Emcon Services Inc. Facebook photo)
Nazko River under flood warning

Rest of the Cariboo, including Quesnel and Williams Lake at lowest advisory level

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Interior Health issued warning April 18, 2021 of crack cocaine in Penticton that looks similar to the substance above containing fentanyl. (Interior Health photo)
Interior Health warns of fentanyl contaminated crack-cocaine in Penticton

There have been recent reports of overdose associated with the use of this substance

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Most Read