Élisabeth Mianscum was born and raised in Senneterre to a Cree family from Mistassini. She was introduced to handicrafts when only a child by the women in her family. Élisabeth’s approach to her art reflects the contagious caring relationship she has with the others and herself. She likes to help people bring brightness into their lives through her work and commitment to the region as a member of the board of directors of the Senneterre Native Friendship Center.  Her precision and meticulousness to create signature motifs, one little tiny bead at a time, are the reflection of a resilient and determined woman who has patiently mapped out her own path to healing: [When I do crafts], I feel like an eagle in the sky. I feel liberated and free.

Élisabeth’s father moved from Mistassini to Senneterre to work at the local sawmill. Her family was facing a period of great changes, in a time when all Native nations were seeing their lifestyle transform forever. As a child, she watched her sister do beadwork and her mother make blankets. It was not until adulthood that Élisabeth developed her own creative technique and signature. Driven by a passion for creative work, Élisabeth managed to put the somber memories of residential school years behind her.

“Doing crafts makes me a stronger person.”

As soon as you enter Élisabeth’s place, you get the impression of landing in the middle of a colorful nest. There is something to look at in every corner of the house, from dream catchers in a variety of sizes to collections of natural feathers, scented leather, containers filled with colorful beads, antlers and other raw materials collected in the forest. Élisabeth says that working with materials from nature has a therapeutic effect on her. She finds them very inspiring; they spark her creativity. By surrounding herself with elements that have a calming and soothing effect on her soul, she creates an environment to focus entirely on her work and lose track of time.

Craft-making gave Élisabeth wings to discover her full potential and redefine her identify. Each of her works is the reflection of a long introspective journey and includes a little of herself. The symbols she cherishes most are the Bear – with which she identifies –, the Eagle and the Owl. There is reference to them in most of her works: bear claws, bead-embroidered eagles, owl feathers, etc. When not busy with a commissioned work, the talented artisan shares her know-how in craft-making workshops. Élisabeth Mianscum regularly participates in exhibitions and events.

Photos: Marie-Raphaëlle leBlond


Go to Top