I don’t remember a time when I didn’t make art. I’ve always had a creative mind and carried a craft bag with me! I try to create anything that I want or need. Making my artwork makes me feel connected to my culture. I get inspired from my time out on the land. When I gather my materials, I always give thanks and I always make sure to know where they came from.
I started selling jewelry in 2015 in order to make a little extra income to pay for my studies at Aurora College in Inuvik. I was collecting traditional materials such as porcupine quills, moosehide, and fur, to make 30 sets of earrings as gifts. People loved them and wanted to buy them, so I made more! Now I have two sought out styles of earrings, made with moosehide and .22-shells.
Making artwork is very relaxing for me, almost like meditating. Turning my ideas into actions becomes an escape from everything else. As part of my journey, I took a two-week mentorship with Dene Nahjo, where I learned how to tan caribou hides outside of Whatì with Tłı̨chǫ Elders. My mother learned to tan moosehides from Elders in the Dehcho, and that is a strong connection that I cherish with my mother and the region I grew up in. Not to long ago, I moved to Inuvik to be closer to my late grandmother’s land and my Gwich’in heritage and culture. My grandfather was born in Aklavik, and I am slowly learning about my family connections here in the Beaufort Delta. I spend as much time with my grandmother’s sisters as I can.
I have some of my mother’s moosehides and to honour her, I intertwine a little piece in most of the art I create. I know the moosehide she prepared is the result of at least four weeks of hard work and years and years of effort to learn that skill in a traditional way. This means that there is a connection to everyone who has carried on this tradition and who has taught that process since time immemorial.
I also greatly respect the animals that make all this possible in the first place. I consciously integrate all of that when I’m making my art. It’s such a delicate and fierce thing in the end. When I create, I am putting all of my energy into that piece of art. When I sell my jewelry, I pass all of that to the person who will own and wear that art piece.