An Inuvialuit Master Caribou Hair Tufter and Designer
(Photograph of Inuk holding a ring seal pelt, was taken by Lenora Barrett Photography, Yellowknife, NT Canada)
Inuk was born, raised and continues to live in the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada. When you meet her; it does not take long to hear her love and respect for her people(s), land and tradition(s) and she shares this with the world thru her one of a kind creations and wearable art.
Since her childhood, Inuk wanted to be a fashion designer, but her artistic journey, really began in the spring of 1990 when she surprised herself and others, with her ‘natural ability to caribou hair tuft’. As any new artist Inuk, was unsure of her ability to become a “Master Tufter”, but aspired to reach that level. Inuk comes from an artistic family, which may add to her natural creative abilities: she believes that, “Learning to tuft on my own accord; helped me find, develop and hone my skills, which brought out my own distinctive and unique style of caribou hair tufting.”
In the NT moose hair tufting is known as one of the traditional crafts from the Fort Providence area, which was dying out when Inuk started tufting in 1990. As, she tufted, she began to revive and successfully help bring tufting back out of the shadows and to new heights, even into the fine art category, worldwide, using caribou hair. She takes this fine art beyond the “norm”. Over the years, Inuk has taught thousands of people around the world, from all walks of life and ages. With each caribou hair tufting, lesson and demonstration she is literally preserving a piece of the Northwest Territories heritage, one tuft and stitch at a time. Her teaching ability of this fine art of caribou hair tufting is remarkable; you can see and hear her patience as she teaches it. She teaches all you need to know on how to tuft, whether it’s using moose, reindeer, deer or caribou hair and helps bring out your own style. Inuk knows that each student leaves with a new understanding, genuine knowledge and a new appreciation of and for tufting.
Inuk knows there are no limits to creating art and as you view her art, you will see her love of creating it and it shows in every piece. You will also see the utmost care in quality and originality in each creation; which you will enjoy for years to come. With continual perseverance, determination and hard work, Inuk has become known as and is a “Master Tufter”, in which she proudly, yet humbly accepts this acknowledgment with a smile. As years go by, Inuk’s ability to work with many textiles by hand has flourished and there are no boundaries she can’t overcome, one stitch at a time. Inuk supports and donates some of her creations to fundraisers for many indigenous grass roots organizations i.e. Walking With Our Sisters, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and Indigenous Cultural Camps. She is a strong advocate for promoting a violence, drug and smoke free life style. Inuk is also, a strong advocate for the Arctic’s sustainably resourced furs and hides, which she turns in to wearable one of a kind creation(s). Her creations span around the world, a great feat for a small town, born indigenous person from the NWT.
A note from Inuk: “It all starts with a dream. No matter what anyone may tell you or do, to try and detour you from reaching your dream(s), go for it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Add a whole bunch of faith, hard work, dedication and pure determination, and you will reach your dreams. Some said, “I would never become a good Tufter, but I never listened, and literally with one stitch at a time I became the best Caribou Hair Tufter that I could be, in which earned me the title of Master Tufter. All teachers should have patience and a true love of what they are doing, because this will show in their lessons. The student(s) age and/or capability should not matter and if you’re going to teach, be a great teacher. I give each student of mine, credit, because they tried and my heart sings when I see their smile at their own tufted creation and accomplishment. I will continue sharing this art with the world for as long as I can and I hope that one day; someone I have taught will carry on this fine art, which will be my ultimate success. I hope that by becoming a positive trail blazer, change maker and leading by example that there will be someone, someday who will see my life’s work and think, wow, if Inuk could do that, I could do that too and live my own dreams that I work for”