Amanda Grieves Dressmaker
Born and raised in Bunbonibee (Oxford House) MB with her siblings and Parents, Dennis Grieves and the late Roberta Grieves.
Amanda grew up connected to the land around her with stories of laughter, truths and histories from her grandparents. She has a very “close-knit” family and feels that it was her grandparents that kept their traditions and language alive in their family.
If you speak with Amanda you may learn of the magical moment, a story of how a sewing machine was gifted to her by Madeline Walker of Norway House. Amanda also speaks of an elder in a fall gathering at Mile 20 and the story of her future as a dressmaker was foretold.
Now, many years later, Amanda has formed her own habit of sewing skirts or dresses and giving them away as gifts to others in her community. She is a firm believer in knowing, keeping, and passing on traditions and respects any seamstress that sews with “their hands” just like how the grandmothers did. It's only because of the barrier of time that she prefers a sewing machine for her own projects, but she can imagine a day when she will sew by hand. “You connect with your creativity as your making skirts, and dresses”. You can’t feel frustrated, angry or have any negative feelings. When she creates her piece she has to make sure that her home is peaceful and clear of clutter. She needs to make sure she has piece of mind and “good energy ”Her grandfather was a crafter as well. He would make loons, decoys and snowshoes and sold them to the nursing stations. Her inspirations include him, her late mom and now her own daughters.
Amanda has spent many of days working with the homeless in the homeless shelter, and the mental health association of Manitoba and has formed many blessed relationships with the homeless population of Thompson. “There was a lady once that I was teaching how to make a ribbon skirt, but the homeless center was too noisy – so I offered her to come to my home. She finished the skirt and I could see her life change. That is my inspiration right there”
She also draws inspiration from the children and youth of the community. Lots of people in our culture and our community don’t realize that our grandmothers only wore skirts which they made themselves and clothing they made for their children.
“The mindset of colonialism is still there” but more awareness is coming out and shifting. I would like people outside of our culture or outside of Northern Manitoba to know that, if you see on the news that Thompson has the highest crime rate in Northern MB, that proves that we are truly affected by the effects of residential schools. And there is much work to be done in this particular community.
She continues to work to make sure she is ready to lead. Currently taking a course on Indigenous women entrepreneurs, she does this because of not knowing where to start. So she is overcoming her barriers by researching and stepping out of her comfort zone to learn and not hesitate to ask about her culture.
Amanda has already began hosting her own workshops and teaching others within the community.