Mary Jane Nigiyok

Beaufort Delta
P.O. Box 91
Ulukhaktok, NT X0E 0S0

Artist Story

I come from a large family of traditional artists. My mom started teaching me to sew when I was very young, aged seven or eight. We’d put work into the community craft shop. I improved in school; there would be an elderly lady who came in and taught us techniques. I make mitts, shoes/kamiks, earrings, parkas, slippers, hats, card-holders, wallets… key chains with sealskin and beaded flowers. All sorts of things, generally traditional ones. I like to try new and different things whenever I can.

Everything I made used to be for my family. I’ve only started selling my work recently. I actually made a Facebook page to help me sell my work! It’s called “MJ’s Northern Earrings.” I’ve started making beaded earrings, dangly earrings with hearts, Ulu’s and butterflies, in bright colours like purple and pink, and those are selling very well, both around here and in the South and East. Sometimes I have so many orders I can’t keep up, so I’m focusing hard on the earrings now until I catch up. My 3 year-old granddaughter’s actually beading now, alongside me. I’m excited to pass my knowledge on to her.

Making art helps me feel like I’m keeping my traditions alive, and keeping my culture alive. It also excites me to see people so excited about the work, when they order it or receive it – their enthusiasm really makes me happy, and keeps me working.

Last Updated: October 6, 2015

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