A new documentary premiering early next month will showcase a Coast Salish tradition on the national stage.
The film titled “The Cowichan Sweater: Our Knitted Legacy” weaves a tale of the iconic sweaters, the people who knit them, and how they grew to be a symbol of power for the Coast Salish People.
Director Mary Galloway, grew up in Qualicum Beach and is half Cowichan, and says she wanted to pass along the stories of the knitters and the struggles they face. Many of the knitters are making less than $1 an hour says Galloway and that people looking to purchase the sweaters often haggle the price down. “Most people will not want to pay the price that they are worth because they see an individual person trying to sell an item- it’s not a business with a set price.”
Finding the wool to even make the sweaters is also a challenge for Cowichan knitters as there are only two shops on Southern Vancouver Island that sell wool in the right density and volume needed to make the sweaters. “They have a monopoly over it, so they can charge whatever they want and they will only sell to specific knitters that they’ve approved,” says Galloway.
“What I really hope people will get out of it is the respect that the knitters and the knitting itself deserve and come to really understand just how much work goes into one sweater,” says Galloway.
Galloway adds that she hopes the film will help revitalize the Cowichan knitting industry.
The Documentary will make its Canadian TV debut on October 7th at 8 pm.