Katie Manomie is a beader and jeweller based in Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC), whose work celebrates the duality in her own life as a displaced Inuk and member of the 60’s scoop. Manomie was born in Iqaluit, NU, and adopted at birth by a non-Indigenous mother, moving with her to British Columbia as a child, where she was raised in T’Souke First Nation on Vancouver Island.
Manomie began beading in early 2022 as part of her coursework in the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College in Victoria, picking the techniques up rapidly. “It feels like a blood memory,” she says of how quickly her beading skill has grown over a span of months.  Her first work was a beaded ulu mounted on wool, inspired by her biological grandmother Kanayuk Pootoogook, whose ulu was gifted to Manomie before she left Iqaluit.
At the culmination of this first project, Manomie was gifted moosehide, and began experimenting with using it as a backing for earrings. Now, she works with moosehide, deer hide, rabbit fur, sealskin and other leathers, although sealskin remains her favourite thing to put on the front of earrings. Her earrings always begin with cutting the backing, which she picks based both on the sturdiness needed and the colour of the materials. From there, she takes the backing to her bead wall to select coordinating beads and fixtures. Her first collection, called Mighty Love, was a series of heart-shaped abalone earrings ringed with glass beads and backed onto leather or hide.
Manomie’s double sided east-meets-west earrings, which feature sealskin on one side and a longer fur like rabbit on the other, edged with beads, speak to the duality in her own life as an Indigenous person raised outside her Inuit culture, with the source of the materials echoing both her Inuk heritage and the T’Souke First Nation she was raised on. Manomie considers her beading a way of connecting with her Inuit heritage. “I really feel at one with what I’m creating,” she says.
In 2020 she received the Inspire Award and the Spirit Award in the Indigenous Family Support program at Camosun, and in 2021 received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Diversity and Reconciliation. She is also currently the elected Indigenous Constituency Representative at Camosun’s Student Society. Although she has only been beading for a short time, she has already been commissioned to create a pair of earrings for Governor General Mary Simon, and she ran a vendor table at a pop-up shop in Victoria, with more pop-ups on the way. Running her own table at a pop-up was a learning experience in itself, from learning how to set up the table, to the need to be transparent about your work, to the vulnerability inherent in seeing people respond to it.
“My path isn’t in my hands,” says Manomie about her future plans—“it’s being guided and shaped by my ancestors.” Accordingly, she is keeping her eyes open for new signs and opportunities, while simultaneously making plans to go into an Indigenous law program in future and to save enough money to go back to Nunavut and form stronger bonds with her biological family after reconnecting with them in 2018. As for her jewellery, she wants to hone her skills with sealskin and see what else she can create from it.
This Profile was made possible through support from RBC Emerging Artists.