My family moved back to Fort Smith so we could be closer to my grandparents. My grandmother only used to crochet or knit, so I learned to sew from other people in the community of Fort Smith when I was about 9 years old.
I loved living here so much that I decided to stay and raise our own family here. We had a large Métis family of six children, and now I am even a Setsune’ (“grandmother” in Chipewyan). I love to sew for them! I am making sure all my grandchildren have a dress-up hat and one with flaps. Now that they are bigger, I’m also making mitts for them.
I flesh the beavers myself to get the material I need. I find that if you tan your own hides, it breathes better – compared to commercial hides that make your hands sweat. Years ago, I made a deal with my husband, I said: “If you clean my fish, I’ll flesh your beavers”. It was a good trade because there were more fish than beavers!
I always make sure my mitts are warm, and that the lining is well done. I’m proud of what I make, so if it’s not perfect or to my liking, I will take it apart and do it again. It’s just part of who I am. I also love to share my traditional knowledge with anyone who is interested to learn, especially with my family. My children are all very busy, but my granddaughter told me she’d like to learn to bead; so I am looking forward to that!