Women’s traditionnal arts


Beadwork is a craft with similar principles to those of embroidery, but where the previously drawn canvas is covered with pearls.

This traditionally female art originates from the Iroquois nation. Previously, Iroquoian women used shellfish, natural metals, caribou hair and porcupine quills to adorn the clothing they made.

According to history, these women began to use glass beads following their introduction into the marketplace by European traders. These pearls, easier to use than caribou hairs and porcupine quills, quickly become the clothing beautification items favoured by many.

Over the years, women from many other nations have incorporated the practice into their cultures. The techniques and materials have changed in various ways, but the particularities and vibrancy brought to traditional clothing by beadwork remains the same.

Nowadays, beadwork is more often than notproduced for commercial purposes. However, this craft is still a marker of Indigenous cultural identity, and a method of leaving one’s mark in women’s traditional art.

Source : The Canadian Encyclopedia
Diane Blacksmith, Ilnue from Mashteuiatsh, is an artisan who practices beadwor since childhood, among other things. She is the creator of the artwork Shawl of Kukum, presented in the exhibition Missing or forgotten; Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie and the others.Passionate about her art, she explains how to bead, and expresses the benefits that creation provides to her family.


Basketry is the art of weaving pliable natural materials such as plants into objects. Generally, black ash and sweet grass were mostly used by the Iroquois nations, while the Algonquin nations worked with birch bark.

Traditionally, this craft was considered more useful than aesthetic. Depending on each nation’s way of life, weaved baskets were used to collect maple water and berries, or for the storage of fish. Service dishes for food were also commonly created from basketry.

Women and men have been involved in creating works of fibrous material for ages. Traditionally, men would cut down trees and thresh the trunk. The role of women, was crafts; they would weave, manufacture and assemble the baskets.

With the rise of tourism, basketry has developed a more economical purpose, representing the entire livelihood of some artisans. Nowadays, the practice is kept alive by women and men who still make baskets and take it upon themselves to teach this art to future generations.

Source : Virtual Museum of Canada
Annette Nolett, Abénaki from Odanak, is an expert in Abenaki basketry. Annette's mission is to transmit her knowledge to her children and grandchildren, and future generations in her community. She is the artist behind the artwork Wanilh8jik phanemok (missing women),in collaboration with Lise Bibeau, presented in the exhibition Missing or forgotten : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie and the others. Well known within her field, she shares the starting stages of an ash basket, and explains the role this carft payed in her life.

Art therapy

This intervention technique is becoming more popular; however, it has been practiced unconsciously for many years, particularly among the First Nations. Often used for healing, the art was quick to prove itself, because of the pleasure felt during the production.

Whether in a group or individually, art therapy is effective, both as an adjunct therapy or a therapy itself.

In this practice, the imagination is a lot solicited; the image is the expression of everyone. It is a powerful way to develop creativity and encourage the potential of everyone through artistic expressions.

Source : Quebec's art therapy association.
Sonia Robertson is an Innu artist from Mashteuiatsh. Since obtaining her Master's degree in Art Therapy in 2017, she has been working in the field, notably within the Kamishkak'Arts organization of which she is the founder. Inspired by reconciliation with the path her ancestors took, Sonia shares her vision of art therapy and its relationship to First Nations culture.