I grew up in Tuktoyaktuk and learned to carve from my father and grandfather when I was very young. I would constantly watch them. When I was thirteen, I made my first carving, a very small kayak hunter. It went up for sale and sold right away. Today I carve mostly with caribou antler but also with all sorts of stone. I carve whales or kayak hunters from caribou antler, and things like bears, drum dancers and trees from stone. There always seems to be lots of caribou antler around; people know I carve with it, and always want to give me some or sell me some.
I think about each design for hours and hours – just looking at the antler, and thinking about what image it would lend itself to. It’s the same with stone. I don’t know what design I’ll be carving before I look at the stone. The stone tells me what to carve. If there’s movement in the stone, for example, it will probably be an animal in motion.
Carving is a passion for me. And it’s exciting to see the customers look at my work for the first time, and react to it, and find their own passions for it. My pieces have a lot of movement in them, and things are happening, but they’re not exactly stories yet. I’m still learning to tell stories with my carvings. It’s something I’d like to get better at. I still have much to learn from my elders.