Meet a maker of moccasins

Sooke artist brings creativity to First Nation moccasin creations

Artist Jamie Gentry weaves elements of her culture and creativity into the traditional moccasins she makes by hand. While her family gravitated to sports while she was growing up in Victoria, Gentry, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, was drawn toward creative pursuits like art and dance.

“My aunt and uncle were both artists,” she explained regarding her relatives, carver Kevin Cranmer and jewelry maker Lou-Ann Neel. “Their artwork was always around and that greatly influenced me.”

Although she always wanted to make moccasins, Gentry could never find someone to teach her until she moved to Sooke in 2010.

When the T’Sou-ke Nation offered a workshop four years ago, Gentry jumped at the opportunity.

“I didn’t intend to start a business once I got started, I just wanted to learn how,” she explained. “But once I got started and couldn’t stop making moccasins, it seemed to make sense.”

She put them online with the cards and children’s clothing she makes from recycled materials and was pleasantly surprised by the response. “It was shocking how quickly it took off from there,” she noted.

Gentry originally started selling her moccasins at Beyond Buckskin, a North Dakota online boutique for native artists. Her work is also available through Manitobah Mukluks, a company that prominently features the work of First Nations artists.

“It’s one of the fastest growing companies in the world and has provided a lot of exposure,” she said. “This month has been my busiest so far.”

Although Gentry usually averages two to 10 pairs a month, she is working on completing 30 orders by the end of December. All her moccasins are woven or stitched in Different in what way?different styles, some featuring beading and some leather stamped by her husband, Robert.

“It’s become a full-time passion, they’re all custom designed and I love what I do,” she said. “It’s important to preserve our culture by adding elements of yourself and your culture to what you design.”

Although she didn’t initially have a sense of what to charge for a pair that can easily take a couple of days to complete, depending on the bead work, Gentry is grateful that Manitobah Mukluks assisted her.

“They put an emphasis on raising awareness that it’s an art form, not just a craft,” she said. “It’s a very time consuming process made by hand with love.”

She charges between $150 to $325 a pair, depending on the amount of work and beading.

Although Gentry was “completely shocked” to be selected as First Nation Entrepreneur of the Year in a recent Black Press Best of West Shore feature, it helped reinforce her belief in what she’s doing.

“Even though I don’t like being in the spotlight, it felt really good to be acknowledged,” she said. “I want this to be sustainable and that underlined for me that I’m on the right path.”

Check out Gentry’s work on Facebook.com/Love in Everything.

 

Just Posted

Son of Second World War veteran returns to Norway to see site of rescue, repatriation

Six-man crew crash lands in Nazi occupied territory, only known instance of entire crew surviving

War bride’s oversea voyage to Canada took a leap of faith

More than 45,000 women immigrated to Canada after the Second World War

One woman’s scrapbook uncovered at Fort Rodd Hill tells story of thousands during Second World War

Joyce Margaret Whitney served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps from 1942 to 1946

A time of remembrance

Hundreds gather at Canadian Legion to honour those who have served and sacrificed

VIDEO: Hundreds gather at Langford’s Veterans Memorial Park for Remembrance Day

More than 65 wreaths laid, including homemade wreath from Afghan veteran

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Victoria Jazz Orchestra concert raises funds for the Single Parents’ Resource Centre

Maria Manna on tap for the Nov. 16 performance in Victoria

Renowned men’s chorus ‘Back by Popular Demand’ in Victoria

One of Canada’s premier singing ensembles kicks off its 39th season on Nov. 16

Mexican culinary celebration fills Victoria Public Market

Taco, Tequila and Margarita Fiesta takes over the Victoria Public Market the evening of Nov. 16

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Last remaining Centurion tank from the Korean War makes its journey ‘home’ to B.C.

Tank arrives in B.C. the day before Remembrance Day after a more than 4,500-kilometre transfer

Most Read