Debra Buffalo started by sewing masks for her family. Amid COVID-19 she put her sewing talents into helping provide barriers for family and friends from the virus.
However, “word spreads like wildfire,” Buffalo said.
Soon she was getting so many requests for masks that she couldn’t keep up on her own, so she recruited help. Buffalo reached out to her sewing friends and created the Facebook page “Masks 4 Maskwacis.”
“It just took off,” Buffalo said. A collective of 12 to 15 women, and a male seamstress started to fill orders coming in on the Facebook page.
The majority of the masks are donated, with a few being sold at a price because of the price of certain materials and elastic. Materials, like elastic, are getting harder to come by and the group is gladly accepting donations of it to continue their work.
Buffalo says that the community members have been incredibly supportive and generous with their material donations so far.
There has been an increase of people wearing cloth reusable masks in public, due in part because of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Deena Hinshaw’s approval of the barrier.
The main focus of the group is sewing and donating masks to the elders in their community. Their goal is to help the most vulnerable in the community first.
Maskwacis does not have any active cases of COVID-19. However, the community is practicing strict preventative measures; currently Maskwacis is in a lockdown, only allowing residents into the community.
To be prepared in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the community Maskwacis has an isolation centre. This centre reached out to Buffalo and her fellow seamstresses asking that they make masks for them as well.
In addition to creating masks for their elders and community, the sewing group has been working on incorporating their culture and art into the masks. “A lot of our masks are also native design,” Buffalo said.
The masks are not only a presentation of protection, but also pride.
To any community members who want to reach out to donate materials or inquire about masks, contact with the sewing team can be made on the “Masks 4 Maskwacis” Facebook page.