Sandra Moore (Sam) not only creates Native art but she believes in teaching others how to create it, too. Sam offers classes in her home teaching space, as well, she and her husband, Barry, travel around Ontario (and beyond) to share her knowledge of traditional Native art.
Sam and Barry’s love extends far beyond their relationship, they share a love of the outdoors and Barry will always be seen with Sam helping with so many of the things she does to create art. Barry tramps through the woods to help her collect birch bark, spends laborious hours washing and cleaning the bark, and these days he pulls the quills from porcupines while she’s busy with other things. Barry also travels with Sandra to different First Nations where he will often be found helping her with whichever class she is teaching and making friends with the class participants.
As if she weren’t busy enough, Sam decided that she needed something else to do in her retired spare time, so in June 2021 she bought Pogadakamagizowin, the original Native Fabric Store, from Annette and Perry Poeta. After being a consumer of Pogadakamagizowin’s fabulous fabric for all the 28 years that Perry and Annette owned the business and touching fabric almost every day herself, it seemed a great fit for Sandra to make room in her already full sewing space to store, cut and package fabric for other sewers. Sandra had run her own Art business for several years under the banner Creators Gifts Cultural Art. After she purchased the fabric business from Perry and Annette, Sandra decided to combine the businesses and Creators Gifts was born.
Sam is a Michisaagiig Ojibwe woman from Hiawatha First Nation. Her Anishnaabe name is Mkwa Kwe Binnoojii – Bear Woman Child. She is a Mom, Grandmother, Auntie and wife. Sandra and Barry have been retired since 2013 and they returned home to Hiawatha First Nation in 2014 and built their dream home on the shore of Rice Lake. Oddly enough, their home is situated on the bay where Sam spent her childhood summers paddling the canoe and looking for turtles.
If we ask ourselves “what is art”, the answers are as variable as the people who try to answer.
Is it scribbles on a piece of paper, a painting hung in a gallery, a fancy ball gown, a pair of slippers with caribou hair tufted vamps, a quilled box sitting in a museum, or something else? The truth is they’re all pieces of art and Sandra D Moore is an artist who focuses primarily on the cultural arts that have been created by her people for generations.
While she’s moved beyond the scribbling phase, the only gallery her paintings hang in is the one in her home (aka her laundry room), she doesn’t sew fancy ball gowns, but she does sew beautiful regalia for powwows. People have told her they saw a new regalia at a powwow and they just knew she had made it. She also creates some amazing pieces of art with birchbark and porcupine quills and many other mediums.
Sam loves to share her knowledge of porcupine quill art, caribou hair tufting, fish scale art, pine needle baskets, ribbon skirts & shirts, powwow regalia, drum bags, ceremonial altar blankets, bundle bags and more. During the pandemic, like teachers everywhere, Sam had to adapt her style of teaching to work over Zoom. She prepared kits, sent them to the organizer of the event who distributed them to the participants and then they met Sandra over Zoom on a predetermined date and the creativity started to flow.
You might ask yourself why Sandra chose the name Creator’s Gifts for her fabric and art. You see, Sandra believes, without question, that everything she is able to do is a “gift” given to her by the Creator. She speaks about the close relationship she has with Creator, not just in prayer and ceremony, but also in the work she produces. Sometimes when Sandra is working on regalia, for example, she’ll be stuck on what to put on a certain piece of the regalia she’s making. It’s not uncommon for her to dream about the regalia, and the answers come through her dreams. She believes it’s Creator helping that piece along, and it’s never steered her wrong. She says it’s awesome when you know enough to trust those messages.