OHSWEKEN – It’s been a long time coming and finally, last weekend, Evelyn’s Fabrics officially opened for business on Six Nations. This new on-reserve fabric store is owned by Christina Bomberry, who has spent the last few years securing the contacts and finances to make Evelyn’s Fabrics a reality.
Evelyn’s Fabrics, located on Fifth Line, carries exclusive top quality fabrics, materials and notions typically used for ribbon dresses, pow wow regalia, and other projects popular among indigenous sewers. The grand opening was a huge event, with over 200 guests arriving in a steady stream of curiosity and support.
The selection is excellent and exclusive, much like what you would see at a large scale pow-wow. Patterned themes like lacrosse, hunting, strawberries, hummingbirds and other indigenous prints line the shelves just calling on your creativity. Of particular interest is the large selection of real Pendleton fabrics. Normally you have to special order this fabric online and ship it in from the US, which can take up to three weeks, but at Evelyn’s they have it in stock. There is also a really fabulous collection of jackets, coats and other Haudenosaune branded finished items available.
Bomberry, a well-known champion fancy shawl dancer, has a long heritage of being one of the go-to resources in the province for high quality regalia and ribbon dresses.
At 19, Bomberry was pursing a career in film and graphics, but after taking a long hard look at what a career in that field would build for her future – it didn’t fit the vision of motherhood she saw in her personal life. So, she changed gears, taking the training her grandmother gave her in sewing and design – and applied to college for Fashion Design.
The store is named for Bomberry’s grandmother Evelyn – the family matriarch who taught Christina to sew. Evelyn, who passed in 2010, was one of the founding members of the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow. She was a well known seamstress on Six Nations and sold Pfaff sewing machines. The fabric store was a shared dream between Evelyn and her granddaughter.
But as Evelyn aged, her doctors eventually declared her legally blind. After careful consideration, Evelyn and her husband made the decision to pass the machines, and the work of sewing, on to Christina. It was an honour and responsibility that Bomberry didn’t take lightly. Bomberry said, “My gramma and my papa supported me in everything I do. That is why I am able to do this now with strength and pride.”
“My papa realized that, because sewing is what I was going to school for, that I was going to be the one to take care of this and carry it on,” Bomberry said. For the last three years of Evelyn’s life, Christina left her job and carried on the work of sewing and learning as much as she could from her grandmother.
Like any woman carrying forward the work of the family matriarch, Bomberry has moments where she feels overwhelmed – but the spirit of her grandmother is never far away reminding her that she is strong and can do the work. “When we lost her I was like, ‘that’s my strength – and it’s gone’. But then I remembered how when she was still with us she would say to me, ‘You know, you know now. The thing that you’re scared of is to accept the fact that you know. It’s to you now for them to ask you those questions.’ But I still think they won’t believe me because I’m young,” she shared, smiling.
Eventually the store will offer exclusive things like fully finished regalia, moccasins and all the things needed to get out and start dancing. Bomberry is also a representative with Manitobah Mukluks and Vans Pendleton – and hopes that they may have some in house in the future as well.
Evelyn’s Fabrics will have workshops in house to teach people how to sew special projects and get one-on-one help finishing up projects they are working on. The store will be open from Monday to Friday 11am to 6pm, however if there are things needed after hours, such as clothing or materials for funerals or last minute Heat n Bond – you can call Christina at 519-861-8611 or visit the store at 2355 Fifth Line on Six Nations.
PHOTO: Christina Bomberry, with her papa Charles “Jackie” Bomberry and father Ron Bomberry at the grand opening of Evelyn’s Fabrics. Christina will carry on the work of her grandmother and family matriarch, Evelyn, by providing quality materials and custom finished garments to the local area.