Gail Qaqaa Wallace is a jeweller from Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, who uses beads, sealskin, leather and metal to create earrings, necklaces and other wearable art, which she sells on Instagram under the handle @Paunnait.
Wallace began creating in 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while studying for her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Winnipeg. Inspired by seeing the talented Inuit creating jewellery on her social media feed, and with some excess time available, Wallace began creating necklaces as a way both to occupy her hands and connect with her culture while she was stuck in the south. Wallace is predominantly self taught, having used pictorial instructions on Pinterest to get started. She reached out to a variety of Inuit artists to help with the techniques she struggled to master, and eventually developed her own patterns.
Eventually Wallace branched out to earrings, which remain her favourite thing to create. She particularly loves working with sealskin for its versatility and its personal meaning: “I’m proud to use sealskin because it’s such a big part of Inuit culture,” she says. “We use seal for food, clothing, warmth and light, and I find it beautiful that I’m able to use it to make earrings too.” 
While her jewellery initially focused on sculptural sealskin and metal pieces, Wallace moved towards beaded items in search of a greater challenge. “When I first started [making sealskin and metal earrings] it took me an hour for each side, and then once I got the hang of it it was only 25 minutes,” she says. The process of picking her bead and colour combinations has become deeply satisfying for her, as has learning increasingly difficult techniques.
After her father gifted her a qauruti, a type of beaded headband worn by Inuit women during certain ceremonies, Wallace took inspiration from its patterns to create a series of metal and bead tassel earrings, which became the basis for her first collection in November 2020. Wallace has since released several collection launches, and hopes to do more in future as well as to collaborate with other Inuit artists on future projects.
In addition to her jewellery practice and undergraduate studies, Wallace serves as a co-founding board member of Tunngasugit Inc, a non-profit which offers front-line services to Inuit transitioning to city life in Winnipeg, and recently began a new role at the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre in Kangiqlining as their Spousal Abuse Counselling Program Manager. In the future, she hopes to grow her jewellery following on social media and hopefully branch out to other platforms like TikTok.
This Profile was made possible through support from RBC Emerging Artists.