Local Métis artist has beadwork stolen from Canada Post mailbox in Winnipeg

Local Métis beader Jessie Pruden — known as Bead ‘n Butter — is emotional on the phone when she recounts how she found out that several parcels with her handmade earrings were stolen out of a Canada Post mailbox earlier this week.

Wednesday evening, Pruden received an email from a man who had found eight padded envelopes near his garage that had been ripped open. The beaded earrings that took Pruden days to make were gone.

When the initial shock wore off, she was devastated.

“A lot of these pieces were just really kind of special and really beautiful. I’ve just kind of gotten into flat stitching, which is a really slow practice and really intentional,” Pruden said through tears.

A total of 13 packages of Pruden’s bead-work were stolen from this mail box at the corner of Balmoral Street and Spence Street. (Submitted by Jessie Pruden)

In total, 13 packages, with contents worth a total of $1,845, were missing. 

Pruden lives with a disability that makes walking or driving to a post office difficult, so her brother, who lives in West Broadway, dropped off the packages in a Canada Post mailbox on the corner of Spence Street and Balmoral Street. 

The man who contacted Pruden didn’t know her, but found her contact information on the packages. He had looked around his place to see if the earrings had been discarded somewhere, but had no luck.

“People are struggling to survive right now. I get it. It’s just tough to kind of reconcile when I myself am not a rich person by any means,” she said.

Pruden taught herself to bead at the beginning of the pandemic, while taking virtual classes at the University of Winnipeg. 

What started out with one beginner’s beading kit and a desire to connect with her Métis roots, quickly became a steady source of income for her, amassing a social media following of over 20,000.

“I just want people to feel good. It’s something that makes everyone feel good, including me.”

Will reimburse shipping costs: Canada Post

While Pruden has insurance for her parcels, it only covers up to $100, and many of her pieces cost more than that.

When she reached out to Canada Post about recovering some of the costs, she was told that it might not be covered by the insurance, because the packages had not yet been picked up by a mail carrier. The corporation told Pruden it would reimburse her for shipping costs.

These flat-stitched cherry earrings took Pruden three days to make. (Submitted by Jessie Pruden)

Canada Post confirmed its mailbox at the corner of Balmoral and Spence was tipped over some time between Aug. 10 and 11, and they were still in contact with Pruden to resolve the matter.

“This is an unfortunate situation and we regret our customer’s experience,” a spokesperson said in an email statement.

Pruden has contacted her customers and alerted them to the thefts. 

“Everybody has just been so wonderful. The outpouring of love has been really incredible on Instagram and from these people,” she said. 

She will work on recreating their orders. The most difficult will be the flat-stitched cherry earrings, which took her three days to make.

From now on, Pruden says she will pay extra to have Canada Post pick up her packages, rather than putting them in mailboxes.

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