The women represented in this exhibition have all the hallmarks of ingenuity – ability, dexterity, genius, skill, wisdom, talent, resourcefulness, intelligence and flair. Led by Florence Moses, they created these works with purpose: to revitalize tradition, to create with pride and joy and to come together in community for healing and support.
“[I’m] very, very proud to be a First Nations woman, and to have the skills of our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers be brought back to life … It brings back memories of my family. It’s a good time to heal. It’s a good time to remember the good stuff. It’s a good time to look forward.” – Florence Moses on CBC News
Shirley Adamson is a mother, a grandmother and of the Wolf Clan. She is an Elder of the Tagish Kwaan who like many of the women of her generation learned to sew and bead clothing and moccasins from her grandmother.
Shirley is a photographer and has also created many pieces of art using paints, found objects and natural materials such as animal bones, fur and teeth. Her work is privately owned, however she has collaborated on the Walking with Our Sisters art piece featuring vamps for missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls currently on display at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre.
Nicole Bauberger is of settler ancestry and moved to the Yukon in 2003. Since 2014 she has been learning about traditional sewing from Mrs. Annie Smith and her daughters, especially Ms. Dianne Smith, elders of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse. She is grateful for what she learns from them, and does a lot of her sewing sitting with Annie.
Amélie Druillet is originally from France, and moved to the Yukon in 2016 where she was introduced to traditional beading by an Elder. She hasn’t stopped beading since. The Yukon Quest was the reason she moved to Whitehorse. She had volunteered on the quest for the past 4 years. This is the third group project she has taken part in and is incredibly proud to be a member of the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre Sewing Group.
Deb Enoch’s ancestry is Northern Tutchone and Upper Tanana and she is a member of White River First Nation.
Her maternal grandfather Joe Tom Tom originates from Selkirk and maternal grandmother Sarah Tom Tom (nee Jack) originates from Alaska. Her paternal grandfather Solomon Charlie originates from Champaigne/Aishihik and paternal grandmother originates from Carmacks.
Deb grew up in Snag with her adopted parents Jimmy and Lena Enoch, and then moved to Burwash Landing to attend elementary school. While growing up she was always surrounded by her mother and grandmother sewing. She learned from them, as well as her aunts and the ladies in the community of Burwash Landing.
The Yukon Crest was put on her blanket to honour her grandmother Sarah and her mom Lena as they both would sew crests and sell them along with other beadwork. The crests were also put on the blanket to represent the Yukon dog teams along with the fireweed flower.
It was an honour for her to be involved in this project with many talented women. Seeing their vision of the blanket they made was inspiring and it was nice to see the different materials used.
Nyla Klugie-Migwans is a member of the Selkirk First Nation and Tlicho Nation of NWT and comes from the Wolf Clan. “When I was young I did not know much about my own culture, but through the years I learned from wonderful elders and my own family that inspired me to learn my culture and traditional knowledge.”
Nyla started to bead mostly for her own family. She believes that everyone has a unique way of telling their own story through beading. It is the designs and colors that reflect you as a beader.
Working on the Dog Blanket project brings her back to how we used to respect our animals. It was the original way of transportation long ago. Nyla has heard lots of stories from elders that talk about how as young children they would have to lead their dog team to hunt, trap and pick up supplies. Imagine being eight years old and pulling your sleigh to get supplies for your family?
Nyla is inspired by historical Selkirk and Tlicho dog blankets and particularly old babiche bags in the permanent collection of the Selkirk First Nation Big Johnathan House. She hopes by continuing to bead and educate others on the importance of revitalizing culture and traditions that she in turn inspires the younger generation to understand that culture, knowledge and traditions are the foundation of learning who you are as First Nations people.
Nyla’s Dog Blanket is dedicated to all the elders and ancestors who once lived the nomadic life. It is in the spirit of them that we continue to learn and be inspired.
Karen Lepine was born and raised in Whitehorse. Her heritage is from the Han Hwech’in and inland Tlingit, Daklaweidi from the Killer Whale house clan.
Karen’s early inspirations and teachers were her late maternal and paternal Grandmothers who taught her beading, machine and hand sewing with fabrics, leather and fur.
Karen’s passion has been sewing traditional regalia for her children, grandchildren, family members and friends; for First Nation celebrations, graduations, weddings and special events.
Karen is always willing to share her traditional teachings through mentoring and sharing with others; by participating in the sewing circles, she believes this contributes to a wealth of knowledge, friendship and respect.
Pauline Livingstone, from Bonnyville, Alberta, moved to Whitehorse in 2010 and quickly fell in love with the Yukon landscape, the brilliant sunrises, sunsets and colours of the seasons.
A Métis woman, Pauline feels a strong connection to the natural and spiritual themes of traditional Indigenous art. Inspired by the people, wilderness and peace she found in the north, Pauline focused her energy on the meditative-like traditional techniques of beading and sewing, a process that is slow and meticulous but rewarding. She loves using Czech seed beads to embellish and adorn her creations in colourful patterns that exemplify the colours represented in nature’s simple beauty.
Pauline finds deep inspiration in the teachings of her mother and grandmother, both of whom entrusted her with the knowledge of timeless cultural practices.
Pauline found great strength in the guidance and support she received from the skilled artists whom she worked with on the dog blankets and feels privileged to contribute to such an important collaborative project with a group of very talented women.
Darcy Tara McDiarmid is a multimedia artist from the Crow Clan. She is Han and Northern Tutchone from Northern Yukon. Darcy tries to capture the pristine beauty of the spirit of nature and is guided by nature and dreams.
Elizabeth Moses is a citizen of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation, the third youngest of eleven children born to Mary and David Moses, of the Tetlit Gwich’in and Northern Tutchone nations. Her maternal grandparents were from the head of the Peel River.
Elizabeth was raised to love the land and to serve the people. She is inspired and strengthened by love of family – “artelligent” at heart.
Florence Moses is a contemporary traditional artist who enjoys working with all types of mediums. She uses textiles and other materials to showcase the beauty, craftsmanship and ingenuity of the art, clothing, footwear and carrying bags of the Athapaskan peoples – past and present.
Her inspirations come from being a descendant of the Gwich’in, Northern Tutchone, and Han Nations. Researching and listening to the stories of her elders gives her an insight into the activities and harsh environments that were endured for survival and sustenance. Using this knowledge, Florence creates contemporary traditional items of significance that tell a story.
Florence embraces opportunities to coordinate and lead group projects including the 2016/2017 Traditional First Nation Dog Blanket project; two podium banner projects; and Yukon Quest’s Official Finisher patches. She also works as an independent artist.
Diane Olsen is a Northern Tutchone, Gwich’in and Han Hwech’in descendent born in Mayo, Yukon, currently living in Whitehorse with her family.
Diane’s creative inspirations come from her passion to create beautiful pieces with northern traditional flair and a modern twist. Both her mother and late grandmother are her greatest inspirations to create wonderful works of art using beads, porcupine quills and moose hair.
Diane is open to learning new skills and techniques to enhance her pieces. As she learns new skills with modern materials such as cabochon stones, she works these into her traditional sewing.
As she is creating her work, Diane hears her mother’s voice in the background, “if you are not happy with your work, take it apart and redo it”. Sometimes this could be two to four times; with this in mind, Diane takes great pride in all the work she designs.
Velma Olsen was born and raised in the small community of Mayo, Yukon. Her First Nation heritage is Northern Tutchone, Hän, Gwich’in and she is from the Wolf Clan.
The youngest of five children, Velma valued spending time at the garage with her father, and plenty of time in her mother’s and Grandmother’s company. She was inspired as she watched and absorbed their creativity as they beaded slippers and moccasins.
Velma loves being creative and does not limit herself to one particular medium. The love of beading and sewing is second nature to her. Her passion is designing traditional First Nations garments with her own contemporary twist.
Her first major piece was a graduation dress she designed and sewed for her daughter in 2015. The dress was on the runway in the Adäka Cultural Festival’s 2015 Da Ze Tsan fashion show, and was featured on the front cover of Yukon newspapers.