A Balancing Act: Homework and Beadwork

During the busy month of September, it is difficult to imagine a student having the time to breathe, let alone having time to themselves. Despite the hustle and bustle of the new school year, two Indigenous Mt. A students—Dominique Dahlgren and Rowan White —have been working tirelessly to sell their beautiful beadwork through their independent businesses. Though their art styles are different, they have one common goal: introducing Sackville to the world of Indigenous beading and educating them about their art.

Modern Languages student and self-taught beader Dominique Dahlgren comes from a long line of Siksika artists. While her mother’s side of the family consists of painters and illustrators, Dahlgren chose beadwork as her medium. She began beading in May of 2018 to create her own pieces of jewelry to wear proudly.

“Beading is kind of one way to keep that artistry going in my family,” said Dahlgren. “It’s very therapeutic and relaxing, I enjoy it a lot.”

As her confidence grew, she wanted to extend her talent and share her heritage with the world. She started her own business and has created fabulous earrings, headbands, key chains, pop sockets and necklaces for her customers. Dahlgren creates pieces from her own imagination and takes custom orders. In the future, Dahlgren is hoping to expand her stock to include traditional regalia.

While Dahlgren’s beadwork journey began before the thought of a pandemic even crossed our minds, music student Rowan White began their journey as a beader to pass the time during the beginning of the lockdowns. After beading a pair of earrings for a local Black Lives Matter fundraiser, they realized that beading was not just a passive hobby for them.

“I learned how to make earrings and picked it up rather quickly. My grandmother sent me a box of supplies, and I decided to do something helpful and sell earrings as part of a BLM fundraiser for our local chapter. I had so much interest in it that I kept selling after the fundraiser was done,” said White.

They have since started their own business in Sackville; Rowan Berry Jewelry is their artistic hub where they create beautiful earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets. They sell their products online consistently, and have had pop-up shops around Sackville over the course of the pandemic. Like Dahlrgren, they create their own designs and also take custom orders.

The art of beading is not just for business, though—beading is a form of healing for Indigenous peoples. White’s family is Mi’kmaq, and within their tradition, beading is completed with prayers and good thoughts. The process is, while a loving passtime for White, one of care and appreciation.

“The energy you hold when you bead is transferred into the beads. It requires so much care and focus to complete a piece that it really is a labor of love,” said White. “Specific pieces carry our history, our art, and our traditions. Being able to give someone a piece they can wear that they know is full of this richness is really rewarding as a creator.”

Dalhgren and White, who sell their wares locally, are currently open for business. You can find Dominique’s Beadwork on Instagram (dominiques_beadwork) and you can find Rowan Berry Jewelry on Facebook under the same name.

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