Skip to content

‘Connected to my culture’: Kelowna Indigenous beadwork artist on national stage

Sandy Sault-Hartwick is attending the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival in Toronto

If you ever find yourself stopping to admire Indigenous beadwork, take a moment to appreciate that there is a deeper meaning to the intricate patterns and vibrant colours.

It also represents creativity, culture, tradition, and spirituality.

Those are facets Sandy Sault-Hartwick rediscovered after returning to her love of the craft.

She is an Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee artist from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, now based in Kelowna.

Sault-Hartwick began beading in 2018, after initially learning the art in elementary school on the reserve.

“I think I was homesick,” she said. “Missing family and missing the culture, so I just picked up the needle and started again.”

She finds inspiration in full moons and incorporating language teachings into her art, and is patient in seeking her style.

“It’s an ever-evolving process. There is so much history of beading in the Indigenous world. I’m trying to incorporate things from my nation and culture into my beading.”

Sault-Hartwick uses various skills and elements in her work.

“On my Annishanabe side, there is more beading and quills. I’ve been drawn to that because I use a lot of porcupine quills in my jewelry.”

Items from the land are also worked into pieces, including tanned hides, seeds, and flowers. Many of her ideas just come to her.

“I notice that during a full moon, I might be more creative, a new design might come to me.”

Sault-Hartwick explained that beading is sacred and healing for her and many practitioners

“It’s time where I feel connected to my culture, connected to home and it’s peaceful to me.”

She emphasized that the beading community is also a place of sharing and learning. She is connected with friends in the Dene First Nation (Northwest Territories), and the Metis Association in Kelowna.

“They share their style and I share my style and our skills.”

Sault-Hartwick is also an entrepreneur, creating Olive+Denton to showcase her art and honour her ancestors.

“Olive is my grandmother’s middle name and Denton is my grandfather’s middle name. I wanted to honour them and put that love into my work.”

Because of the nature of her art and creativity, pieces can take a while to create.

“Right now I’m happy to be doing what I do and if it gets bigger that’s great. I’m doing it more as a part-time hobby, and it’s comforting to me.”

This week she is attending the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival (May 30-June 2) in Ontario displaying her work.

“I’m excited because it’s in Toronto, my traditional territory. It’s so cool to see so many Indigenous artists together showing their crafts.”

Sault-Hartwick’s designs can be viewed on the Olive+Denton website or Instagram, @oliveanddenton.

READ MORE: ‘I can’t just do nothing’: Kelowna woman publishes first book series at 84

READ MORE: First steps caught on camera: Kelowna fawns nestle into flower bed

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
Read more