M’Chigeeng Elders’ Centre pays tribute to Elizabeth Panamick

Grace Fox presents Elizabeth Panamick with a framed braided rug which will be hung in her honour at the M’Chigeeng Elders’ Centre. photo by Betty Bardswich

by Betty Bardswich

M’CHIGEENG—Every month the Anishinaabemowin Gamig, the Elders’ Language Activity Center in M’Chigeeng, hosts a celebration, complete with cake and ice cream, for everyone who had a birthday in that time frame. This month had eight people in attendance to receive best wishes on their birthday from friends and family. The gathering was particularly noteworthy this time in that it was also a chance to pay tribute to Elizabeth Panamick for all the work she does. Ms. Panamick can be found at the Elders’ Centre pretty well every day and all that time she is sewing and braiding material to make rugs which can be square, rectangular, round or oval.

The party began with a blessing as Joe Fox said the Lord’s Prayer in Ojibwe and was followed by a delicious meal that included fresh vegetables and dip, pizza, chili and coconut cream pie.

Grace Fox, a community activist and educator, then told the audience about the work that Ms. Panamick does and showed a large framed braided rug, covered with glass, which is to be hung in the Centre in her honour. At a later day, Ms. Panamick will receive a gift that she can keep at home.

As was explained, Ms. Panamick was born in M’Chigeeng in 1932 and was raised at a camp in the bush and attended elementary school. She later went to Sudbury to work in a restaurant and then moved to Toronto where she completed her high school education and then worked as a sewing machine operator. After several years she returned to M’Chigeeng.

When Ms. Panamick makes her rugs, she is very exacting about the methods used. She takes the time to colour coordinate each piece and is sure to measure her material exactly right and then she begins the sewing. Next comes the braiding and she makes sure that there are no lumps or twists. When she is finished with the braiding, she decides on the shape she wants and starts sewing, using sinew, a very strong material from the ligaments and tendons of animals. From start to finish and working daily, the finished product takes two to three weeks.

Ms. Panamick loves going to Anishinaabemowin Gamig and is very happy to have people around her. She also sells her braided rugs or table runners and will custom make it to ones liking as the customer picks the colours and shapes and sizes themselves. Contact Elizabeth at the Anishinaabemowin Gamig office at 705-377-5676.

At the celebration, Ms. Fox also thanked Gina and Annie Corbiere for all the work they do in making beautiful quilts, some of which were on display at the Centre. It is well worth the trip to see the quilts and to say hello to Ms. Panamick.