Handing down traditions

 

In Southern Tutchone, Adäka translates to "coming into the light." This photo essay aims to shine a light on the workmanship of the arts of Yukon First Nations people by photographing the hands of participants at the annual festival.

Photo 1- Näts'ay dihch'e Creations .jpg

Näts'ay dihch'e Creations: Melanie Bennett begins every morning by beading, a tradition taught to her by her grandmother. For Bennett, beading is a way to honour her family and meditate. "For me, it's like a prayer," she says. "I just think about the person I'm beading for and sew good wishes into every piece. If I do that in the morning then I know I'll have a good day, too.”

Photo 2 - At nine .jpg

At nine years old, Ella Johnston is the youngest participant at this year's Adäka festival. She makes moccasin and doll-shaped jewelry from clay.

Photo 3- Her Father.jpg

Her father, Peter Johnston, is Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations. He makes fur earrings beside her.

Photo 4 Gerald Etzerza.jpg

Gerald Etzerza fiddles traditional folk songs in the elders’ tent for those young and old who stop by.

Photo 5 Lorraine Wolfe.jpg

Lorraine Wolfe, a Tlingit carver, shaves a block of wood into an eagle icon. Wolfe, who learned how to carve only two years ago, says she decided to learn the craft "because we can now."

Photo 6- After.jpg

After learning to carve at a workshop, Duran Henry now gives his time to the Northern Cultural Expression Society to teach others the craft. In the photo above, he uses sandpaper to smooth the dish spoon he made earlier in the day.

Photo 7 Gwen Piwowar.jpg

Festival-goer Gwen Piwowar uses some of the tools available to recycle rusted spikes for a canoe he is building from scratch.

Photo 8- Lena Moon.jpg

Lena Moon travelled from the Yukon community of Teslin to attend the festival. She says she learned how to sew from her mother, who taught her how to survive off the land from a young age.

Photo 9 Rosalind Mercredi.jpg

Rosalind Mercredi is a glass artist from the Northwest Territories. She's shaping cut pieces of glass into an igloo while helping other participants of the festival add their own design to the mural. At the end of the festival, the mural will be grouted and gifted to the community centre.

Photo 10 Gertie Tom.jpg

Gertie Tom makes baby moccasins and smiles at anyone who stops by her booth. Crafting has been a lifelong passion for Tom. "I've been beading since I was seven, and I'll be beading till I can't see no more."

 
Cat Kelly