By Ellen McGirt
Updated: December 18, 2017 2:45 PM ET

It’s a stressful time of year (and I’m fighting the winter crud today) so I’m going to start our last week together before the holiday break with a short meditation on nature, craft, and tradition.

My Father’s Tools” is a gorgeous, seven-minute video that accompanies master basket maker Stephen Jerome as he creates a black ash rib basket from scratch, using traditional tools handed down to him by his father, and a technique that was honed over generations. There is something uniquely soothing about watching a maker at work, and this quiet film – there is no dialog – begins in the Quebec woods as Jerome searches for just the right tree.

The director is Jerome’s partner and first-time filmmaker Heather Condo, who got the training and support she needed from Wakiponi Mobile studio, a “traveling mediation, training and audiovisual creation studio,” that helps indigenous youth around the world tell their stories. (Condo’s Instagram feed is a delight, too.) Both are members of the Gesgapegiag First Nation, a Mi’gmaq community in Quebec. The film won acclaim as an official selection at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, became the first indigenous film to be a Vimeo staff pick, and has gotten over 124,000 views.

More about the Mi’gmaq (also spelled Mi’kmaq) here.

The film is clearly a tribute and a desire to keep a dying art alive. “There are films that show people making baskets but it’s by white people who are just passing through the reserve and shows about 30 seconds of it,” Condo told the Wicked Ideas online magazine. “It’s nice to have this down for our grandchildren and children to see.” But for everyone else, it’s an opportunity to sit a while and be an apprentice even for a few minutes, sitting in a workshop instead of traffic, listening to the sounds of craft, instead of Muzak at the mall.



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