An Indigenous artisan likes to share her culture through sewing

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For Kayla Solomon, sewing and crafts help her practice her culture and keep it alive.

Solomon, who lives in Moosonee, is a member of the Moose Cree First Nation.

Since she started sewing as a hobby in 2019, she has met and bonded with many people.

She enjoys sharing her knowledge and culture with other people and it feels good to share what you know, says Solomon.

“I’m passionate about learning new things about sewing. I continue to gain knowledge and enjoy sharing it with others,” she says. “I think it’s very important as an Aboriginal person to keep our culture alive.

Sewing gives her a sense of accomplishment, boosts her confidence and makes her feel good. It also taught him patience.

Her work is done primarily with commercial moose hide and she always works with real fox, coyote and rabbit fur. She also buys real beaver fur from a local trapper in the area.

One day, she wants to work with real home-tanned smoked moose hide. Preparing and working with real skin takes a lot of work and patience, including skin skimming, skin thinning and waxing, she says.

“In Aboriginal culture, nothing is ever wasted and you only harvest what you need,” says Solomon.

She made crafts for people living and working in the area who come from diverse backgrounds. Her clients also include members of the local community and people from out of town.

Solomon comes from a large family of six siblings as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Her inspiration comes mainly from her late grandmother Emma Sutherland.

Sutherland was a well-known person and artist in the region whose craftsmanship was always done with passion and patience. She was “the queen” of working with real moose hide, Solomon says.

Salomon wants to follow his grandmother’s example by making crafts that are pleasing to the eye.

“I just want to be like her. She was so good,” she says. “I want her teachings to be instilled in me. It makes me happy that I can still use my grandmother’s techniques because people have their own styles and techniques when they sew. My grandmother was a perfectionist when it came to making crafts.

Solomon also worked with a teacher at Northern Lights High School. She provided information and answered questions about making hats and mittens.

Due to the pandemic, she communicated with the teacher through emails, texts and phone calls.

It was a rewarding experience because some students really enjoyed sewing and had a sense of accomplishment once they finished their work, Solomon says.

It makes her happy when people give her positive comments, share photos of themselves wearing her designs, and tell her how proud her grandmother would be if she were still alive.

In the future, Solomon plans to make more items like gloves, paluk mitts, mukluks, and different kinds of beads like keychains. She is also working toward a degree in Native Studies from Laurentian University.

“I continue to grow and I continue to improve in many areas of sewing. It makes me happy,” she says.

Kayla Solomon’s work can be found at Twitter and Facebook.

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