A Métis beadwork and clothing artist from St. Louis, Saskatchewan, received the job of a lifetime recently
- EFN Staff | February 13, 2023
Christine Tournier was asked by her good friends, Colleen and Clint Rudderham, to make a beaded medallion, which would be gifted to Jason Momoa on set of his current project called See.
The idea for the medallion came to be when Clint got an unexpected acting gig for the production, See. Clint suffers from a degenerative eye condition that’s left him legally blind, but when Colleen spotted a casting call for vision-impaired actors, she brought it to his attention.
See is dystopian series set in the future where humans have lost their vision.
“I wanted him to do this to show him that, you know, there’s still life out there,” said Colleen. “And it’d be important for him to recognize that he can still have the ability to do a lot of things in this world, despite getting that kind of diagnosis.”
Tournier said they all wanted to make this piece unique and memorable for Momoa because of his Hawaiian background. She aimed to intertwine the two cultures, with an emphasis on the land.
“The main part of the work is a turtle, so that’s of course representative of land and Indigenous culture and also significant in Hawaiian culture,” said Tournier. “And then she also wanted an eagle, a teepee, and a feather to represent her background.”
Colleen said from her view, Momoa seemed to be very grateful and excited to receive the medallion. He then opened and read aloud a letter that Tournier wrote to him explaining the meaning of the piece.
“I grew fondly of him for standing up for Indigenous peoples across the country, across the world, really for all Indigenous people,” said Colleen. “And I think that’s why I admire him so much, that’s why that piece needed to be meaningful.”
From a young age, Tournier remembers her mother sewing and learning the basics from her, but after enough time she carved her own path and eventually started SS River Designs.
Tournier said she draws inspiration from her close connection to the South Saskatchewan River, which runs through St. Louis. She also has deep cultural roots in the area.
“My mom and dad live on the end,” said Tournier. “My mom’s cousin lives on the original homestead where our ancestors would have homesteaded in the late 1800s and then fought in the [resistance].”
Coming out of high school, Tournier said there wasn’t that much of an Indigenous or Métis fashion industry compared to now. She pointed to how Indigenous beading and leatherwork didn’t get the recognition of being couture, but now they are starting to receive that level of appreciation.
For Indigenous Fashion Week, Tournier was selected to participate in Cannes, France, alongside the film festival in May. She’ll be presenting a new line of clothing and offered a sense of what to expect.
“Looking at some historical beadwork from the late 1800s as far as some of the styles of flowers and some of the colors, but yet they still kind of have a modern feel,” said Tournier. “And this one is definitely a grandmother collection, but it’ll be a bit of a surprise as far as not your typical grandmother kind of thing.”