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‘Proud to be Mi’kmaw’: Artist shares how beading reconnected her to culture

Click to play video: 'Resurgence of Mi’kmaw beading bringing many closer to culture'
Resurgence of Mi’kmaw beading bringing many closer to culture
The resurgence of traditional Mi’kmaw beading is bringing many closer to their culture, and tons of small businesses have opened across the Maritimes showcasing the beautiful artwork -- which has now becoming trendy. Amber Fryday has more – Oct 28, 2022

The stunning artistry of beading has been around for centuries in Mi’kma’ki, and for many, it’s more than just creating jewels.

Caitlyn Moore, of Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland, says learning to bead was a way to reconnect with her culture.

“I didn’t really grow up with my culture… My ancestors kind of hid their culture, and blended with the rest of society,” Moore said, adding that was common with Newfoundland Mi’kmaq.

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Moore picked up beading just over a year ago, at an event hosted by the Native Women’s Association where one of her friends taught her the craft.

“Anything I can do to reconnect with my culture has been a huge, huge impact on my life,” Moore said.

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Though she was somewhat new to the art, Moore started her own business in October of 2021. At Mia’wjl Designs, she sells hand-beaded dreamcatchers, earrings and moccasins.

Amber Fryday / Global News

Wearing regalia and traditional jewelry makes her feel empowered, Moore said.

“I’m proud to be Mi’kmaw, I’ve always been proud to be Mi’kmaw, even as I was starting my journey in reclaiming my culture.”

Gaining back the connection through her artwork has been life changing for her and her children, aged five and four. Their father is from Millbrook First Nation in N.S., and Moore said the boys will never have to hide from their culture.

“They’re definitely very involved and they always want to know what I’m doing,” Moore said.

Though they’re still too young to start beading, Moore said they have started learning simpler crafts.

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Moore said she hopes to grow her business as she continues to learn new skills.

“I want to keep being innovative and trying new things. I’m hoping to eventually showcase some pieces in Montreal.”

 

 

For some, beading is also a healing mechanism.

Helen Bernard-Ward, from Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick started her journey with beading as a child.

She picked it up again five years ago, and now operates Boujee Crow Beading.

 

She also now teaches others her craft, and helps new artist learn more about themselves.

“This is who we are. This is part of who we are,” said Bernard-Ward.

Helen Bernard-Ward is seen teaching others how to bead. Submitted: Helen Bernard-Ward

Used as  form of therapy, Bernard-Ward said making jewelery relieves her anxiety.

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“People talk a lot about our medicines, right? Our sweet grass, our sage, our tobacco and I think for me, beading has been one of those medicines,” said Bernard-Ward.

“Its been that medicine for my mind, my body and my spirit.”

Caitlyn Moore said Mi’kmaw artists are supportive of others’ work.

“Everybody that I’ve worked with for the most part, has been very amazing, very inclusive, happy to share their knowledge,” Moore said.

“We’re not a competition market, we support each other.”

 

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