LAC LA BICHE, April 19, 2016. Portage College's YouTube video featuring late Métis Elder Elsie Quintal has topped 100,000 views two years after it was first posted on the site.
Quintal, a valued instructor at the college for over 28 years, appears in the instructional video titled Hide Tanning the Woods Cree Way, which was produced 24 years ago.
The video has had an unexpected worldwide response. Since it was first uploaded, the video has received more than 650 likes, 270 shares and 70 comments praising the production from people all over the world. While most of the views have been recorded from residents of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany, the video has been watched in 194 different regions including North Korea.
The video was produced on VHS in 1992 by an Edmonton production company and the updated DVD version was uploaded to YouTube 22 years later on April 24th, 2014. Elder Elsie's knowledge was passed to her from her mother and she passed it on to the students at the college. Mrs. Quintal passed away August 24, 2013 at the age of 97.
In 1998 she received the award of Excellence in Teaching for Portage College as well as the Esquao Award from the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. Mrs. Quintal continued to teach up until 2006 where she was made an Honourary Convocate for her contributions to the Native Cultural Arts Certificate Program.
One of Elder Elsie's students is the current Hide Tanning course instructor. "We had to prove ourselves worthy to have this knowledge. The more you got to know Elsie, the more she taught you," said Ruby Sweetman, Native Arts and Culture Program Instructor, Portage College. "It takes years of practical experience and skilled labour along with the Elder's guidance to respect the animal and respect the hide of the animal for use in everyday living."
"This is a unique skillset not easily obtained. We are proud that we can continue on the traditional Aboriginal knowledge with our skilled instructors. We hope Elder Elsie would be proud that she has encouraged people worldwide to learn of Aboriginal traditional values and skills," said Dr. Trent Keough, President & CEO, Portage College.