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  • Madeleine Canadien trimming tufted moosehair, Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, 1984
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Madeleine Canadien trimming tufted moosehair, Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, 1984
NWT Archives/G-1995-001: 5548

Stepping into Womanhood

Moose hair tufting

Although the use of animal hair for clothing decoration was common among Athapaskans in early times, the technique known as “tufting” only came into existence around 1918. In tufting, flowers and leaves are created by inserting a small bundle of moose hairs under a loop stitch, then pulling the stitch tight and fastening it off. The hairs are fanned out on either side of the stitch and trimmed with scissors to create a smooth, rounded effect.

A Northwest Territories Métis woman, Mrs. Boniface Lafferty, is credited with the introduction of moose-hair tufting. She passed on her skill to a daughter-in-law, Celine Lafferty, who in turn taught the technique to a nun, Sister Beatrice Leduc. Sister Leduc taught at the residential school in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, for many years, where many Native and Métis girls learned the craft.