Mi'kmaq, Qalipu First Nations
Pauline Gilley, Member of Qalipu First Nation. I am living in Corner Brook, NL but grew up in Sally's Cove and Rocky Harbour, NL. I learned sewing from my Grandmother. She made seal skin boots and moccasins for her family. Although I never learned this skill from her , I was very interested in learning because of her.
I took a Moccasin workshop held through our local Indigenous Women's group and was taught by Courtney Reid. I wanted to make myself a pair of Seal Skin Boots, which I did, creating my own pattern. This left me with leftover seal skin so I incorporated it into other crafts and my arts and crafts took off from there. I had always made crafts but now focused more on indigenous items. I was encouraged to try painting by family members and soon realized I could paint. I pretty much figured everything else out on my own. I try to stick with items that reflect our Mi'kmaq culture. Seal skin is a big thing for me since it reflects not only our indigenous culture but also our NL culture. People had to use whatever they had years ago and seal skin was a very important part of their life. My grandfather tanned the cow hides to use as footwear as well. They found a use for all parts of the animal. Therefore I love that today we can use the 'leftovers" for jewellery or smaller projects.