Sharon Vittrekwa

Adäka Artist Spotlight: One artist’s quest to explore her culture.

Creating Indigenous Sovereignty Representation
Woman beading a pair of earrings.

A Tetlit Gwich’in artist who designs and creates traditional clothing and jewellery, Sharon Vittrekwa’s artistic practice is rooted in exploring her own culture and encouraging others to do the same. 

Born in Aklavik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, Vittrekwa was raised by her grandparents in Fort McPherson, NT, and came to Yukon in 1990, dividing her time between Whitehorse and Old Crow. Around the age of six, she began helping her grandmother, aunts and other Elders sew mukluks, hats, mitts and hunting bags. After her grandmother passed away, Vittrekwa learned to make traditional clothing and hunting gear. She was motivated to learn more about sizing and patterns after the birth of her son, in order to create clothing for him as he grew from baby to toddler and beyond. 

Today, Vittrekwa’s repertoire incorporates the traditional items of regalia as well as hide accessories, but has expanded to modern hide items like cellphone and scissor sleeves, passport covers and wallets. She also creates jewellery, utilizing a wide range of materials including dentalium shells, turquoise, moose, elk and deer hides, silver, willow seed beads, trade beads and more. Her mastery of her craft is widely recognized; in 2011 she sold a purse with beaded forget-me-nots that was gifted to Kate Middleton during her visit to the North.

Vittrekwa is well-known for her teachings across the province, having given seminars on medicine gathering and healing to schools, support centres and healing retreats throughoutYukon. She also shares her artistic skills through her teaching; recent ventures have included a rabbit pompom earring workshop at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in Dawson City, YT, and a bracelet beading workshop at the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT) in Whitehorse. When COVID hit and YFNCT launched the YFN Arts Shop in 2020, Vittrekwa quickly became one of the top sellers, with clients around the world. She has since joined YFNCT as an Assistant Arts Programmer, while continuing to sell work and take commissions on her own Instagram page.

Woman beading a pair of earrings.
Vittrekwa beading a pair of earrings in 2012. Courtesy of Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association

This video was originally published by the Yukon First Nations Arts on October 15, 2021. Courtesy of Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association.

Launched in 2011, the Adäka Cultural Festival’s mission is to develop and deliver a world-class, iconic festival that showcases, celebrates, and fosters the development of Yukon’s diverse and distinctive First Nations arts and culture. The festival is administered by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT). YFNCT is a not-for-profit organization committed to growing, promoting and celebrating strong and sustainable Yukon First Nations arts, culture and tourism sectors.