I make traditional style ulus and knives. Our Elders and Ancestors would make ulus with materials available to them including repurposed saw blade steel, which is what I prefer to use. I think it’s so important to try and maintain that type of traditional Inuvialuit craft where we are repurposing materials to create useful tools.
I source my materials from wherever I can find them. I’ll get old steel blades locally if I can, but most of the time I will buy them from somewhere down south, where they’re easier to find. Old blades are often hard enough to maintain an edge, while being soft enough to make it as dull or as sharp as the person using it needs it to be. I use moose antler and hard wood for the handles.
I admire other ulu makers. I’m inspired by the people that have maintained that craft and preserved the use of traditional materials and tools.
I use templates for my work, but each piece is an individual creation. I love to keep my creative process wide open, which means that each piece will be unique. I visualize how things may look in the end, but it doesn’t always come out that way. To me, that’s art.
I’ve always had this creative spirit. I’m always doing something or creating things. Growing up, I would see Elders make ulus outside of their houses in Tuktoyaktuk. I’ve always been fascinated by it, so I would slow down while passing them, or just stand there and watch. I’ve always wanted to do what they did. I’ve started making ulus in 2015, but it seems like that creativity was in me much longer than that.
I think my drive and passion to create are really a part of my spirit. I create art because it’s just who I am. Creating ulus is just a small part of what I do. I’m a creative person and I can make anything, from a toboggan to a cabin. My children are also creative and I will always be there to teach them or support them.
I am Inuvialuit. I grew up in Tuktoyaktuk, where there was an ulu in every house you went in. You would see people using these tools, whether it was in the kitchen cutting meat, or on the beach cutting dry fish and whale. These tools are valuable and a real part of who we are. I love to think of how these tools were created and how they were being used in everyday life. I feel strongly about maintaining that traditional craft. What drives me the most is when Inuvialuit people want to buy my products to use it in the traditional sense, today.