Sho Sho "Belelige" Esquiro

Yukon Art Prize Artist Spotlight: Indigenous fashion as a means of self-expression and consciousness-raising

ch’i cha jų̃ kwa’ch’e uts’an kwäts’eden-ji Indigenous Sovereignty

Sho Sho “Belelige” Esquiro is a fashion designer and artist of Kaska Dena, Cree and Scottish descent. Originally from Ross River, YT, she is currently based in Vancouver, BC, where her solo exhibition Sho Sho Esquiro: Doctrine of Discovery runs at the Bill Reid Gallery through June 2022.


Esquiro’s work is deeply rooted in her connections with family and community. Her mother, also an artist, inspired Esquiro to dream big, and she has learned traditional techniques from Elders in the Yukon that she hopes to pass on to others. As part of this work, Esquiro has been a youth worker for many years, facilitating art programs and sharing her work and experiences with elementary and high-school students.

A painter as well as a textile artist, Esquiro often works with recycled materials in an effort to be environmentally conscious. Ascension, an intricate piece honouring her late grandparents, features recycled prayer scarves, laser-cut rabbit fur, several types of beads and paws from a lynx trapped by her great-uncle.

Indigenous experiences and history are central themes of Esquiro’s art, which she uses as a form of self-expression and a way to bring certain issues to light — always through the lenses of awareness, compassion and healing. Her arresting work titled “Kill the Indian Save the Man” takes the harmful concepts behind assimilation and prompts viewers to place themselves beside those words, which are beaded backwards, when reading them in the mirror. Esquiro asks more of her audience than a passive glance; viewers are implored to consider her art in depth to appreciate its messages.

Esquiro has been featured in numerous publications including Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar while her work has been shown in cities across Canada, the United States and Western Europe.

Credit: This video was originally published by The Construction Foundation of BC on May 29, 2020. COURTESY THE CONSTRUCTION FOUNDATION OF BC.