Hazel Salopree-Mackay

South Slave
Kátł’odeeche First Nation

Artist Story

I have found so much healing in my artwork. Beading allows me to spend time by myself and think about the best ways of living. It can bring back a lot of memories, but it also helps me leave all the bad things behind. What’s in the past stays in the past, and I can only do my best to continue moving forward and be my best person. Making art helps me focus on that goal. If I’m not beading, I like to bake pies or bannock. Those are some things that keep me active and moving forward every day.

Every weekend my husband and I go out on the land, which was very helpful in my recovery too.

I spent many years living with alcohol. In 1982, I moved to Hay River with the help of my sister. One day, I woke up and I decided to that was enough and I had to go for treatment. When I came back, I felt like I was reborn. To help with my healing, my auntie asked if I could bead some uppers (for moccasins) for her and I agreed. I had learned to bead when I was about 6 or 7 from my family, but hadn’t done it for a really long time! I started from there, a year after I got sober. She encouraged me and said I was really good. She started giving me pieces of moosehide and some beads to work with in exchange for the work I did for her. This is how I started making my own things.

At first, I made cardholders and then started making key chains. One day I had an idea of how to make a beaded moosehide jewellery box - I tried it and it worked! I didn’t know they would become so popular. Now, I love to make all types of items, from baskets to jewelry, wallets and jewelry boxes.

When I start working on something, I like to make multiple items at once. I do all my flowers at the same time, then I outline them, and then I will work on the leaves. I draw all my own patterns and I love to use all the colours. I usually get inspired by what I see when I’m walking in the summertime or while travelling in new places. I love to walk in nature and see the flowers and their colors. You should see my room: it’s full of colourful beads!

Artist Bio: 

Hazel is originally from Meandor River, Alberta. Hazel uses the initial HSM to identify her artwork. She wanted to include her maiden name – Salopree – because she wants people to know where she’s from as she finds inspiration in staying connected with the traditional artists in her family. She made her first jewelry box around 1998 and this continues to be the most sought out item she makes. Now that she is retired, Hazel spends more time sewing and beading. She dreams of getting a moose and setting up camp on the land to work on the hide with her husband. Hazel’s artwork can be found at the North Country Inn in Hay River.

Last Updated: July 10, 2020

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