November 6, 2020

“The Spirit of Beads: Sharing Our Stories” presents Ukrainian and Indigenous cultures


TORONTO – The Ukrainian Museum of Canada, Ontario Branch (UMC OB) and the Native Canadian Center of Toronto (NCCT) present the opening of their first collaboration celebrating Ukrainian and Indigenous cultures and the relationships each shares with beadwork.

“The Spirit of Beads: Sharing Our Stories” showcases beautiful beadwork in Ukrainian and Indigenous artifacts to highlight the cultural importance of beadwork in many distinct communities that continue to thrive today. Inspired by the two-row wampum belt, the exhibition highlights each artifact in a parallel pathway to maintain cultural integrity, while offering a mutually respectful study of the differences and similarities in beadwork techniques and motifs.

“The exhibition aims to appeal to a diverse group of guests of different ages, experiences, interests and prior knowledge through the medium of storytelling,” exhibit curator Lily Stafford notes. “It is our intention to celebrate this beautiful art form, and focus on the ways in which it can unify and strengthen a connection between our communities.”

The exhibition explores how the traditional art of beadwork has come to represent the complex identity of each of these cultures, from their earliest origins to their contemporary forms. In addition, the exhibition offers insight into how each artifact is made, delving into motifs, symbolism and spiritual meanings. The show also features the work of six contemporary Ukrainian and Indigenous beadwork artists who demonstrate how the different techniques of beading have evolved throughout history.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, UMC OB and NCCT are offering this exhibition as a digital opening via Zoom Video Communications (October 25), as well as an interactive virtual walk-through of the exhibition currently on display at the UMC OB. The interactive virtual tour will be available for public access following the opening at

Beginning November 3, the exhibition will also be open to in-person visits by appointment with strict COVID-19 protocols, including a mandatory mask policy, in place. For more information on UMC OB’s COVID-19 policy and protocols readers may visit

Donations can be made via the UMC OB website to support the current and any upcoming exhibits. Follow UMC OB at @umcontario on Instagram and Ukrainian Museum of Canada Ontario Branch on Facebook. Follow NCCT on Instagram and Twitter at @nativecentre and Native Canadian Center of Toronto on Facebook for the latest updates.