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‘Every bead is a prayer’: Jazenta Saultier speaks about Indigenous beadwork

Jazenta Saultier, a member of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Treaty 6 territory, began beading four years ago with a women’s healing group led by Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Barb Frazer. She says that practicing the art has changed her life.

Jazenta Saultier, a member of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Treaty 6 territory, began beading four years ago with a women’s healing group led by Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Barb Frazer. She says that practising the art has changed her life.

“We got to bead on smoked moosehide. The women who smoked the hide was an elder, and it was the last moosehide she ever smoked,” Saultier said. “It smelled so amazing. And it was all new to me, I grew up in the city or in small towns and I never practiced my culture or knew my traditions.”

Saultier’s grandparents were residential school survivors. Residential schools were explicitly intended to break the familial lines of Indigenous culture — an attempt at extinguishing non-European languages, spirituality, and traditions in the name of integration.

Over the last 10 years of Saultier’s life, she has been reclaiming those traditions. She said the healing she has felt throughout that process makes all the difference to her.

“I think all my pieces are a tribute to my Indigenous culture and my traditions, because I am an Indigenous woman and my grandparents are residential school survivors,” she said. “So, I believe that every bead is a prayer to the love and respect I have for my culture and my people, and to the person who’s going to be wearing it.

“I put nothing but love, respect, kindness, and generosity into my beadwork. Every bead is a prayer, every bead is a soul, a spirit.”

Saultier draws inspiration for her art from everywhere. A cloud, an animal, other people’s art, photos, and her own visions — almost anything, she explained, can cause her to think, ‘I could do that,’ — or something like it — in beadwork.

Social media has been a surprising source of inspiration, as well, and is where Saultier posts her work — mostly through TikTok and Instagram.

“I honestly wasn’t into TikTok until recently, I’ve only been on there five, six months,” Saultier said. “I don’t post anything besides my beadwork. But I see a lot of beautiful things on there, like a lot of Indigenous artwork and traditions and stories. It’s very interesting.”

Saultier has had several of her pieces on display at the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJM&AG) as part of exhibitions, including a medicine wheel medallion and a traditional shawl.

“It’s been an amazing experience, you know, how far my work has gone and the things that I’ve made. It’s emotional and overwhelming sometimes… It’s brought me back to the woman I was meant to be. I believe that beading is human, beading is medicine.

Being part of the Moostletoe tour this year is an honour, she said, and something she couldn’t have done without the support of her community and friends. Occasionally that means pressure to do more, to participate and expand, but she is still thankful.

Saultier also does not believe that beadwork should be left exclusively for people of Indigenous descent, although she cautions that respect for history should be part of the practice.

“I’m not ever going to tell somebody ‘no’ because you’re of a different ethnicity or culture, that’s something I would never do,” she explained. “Everybody deserves to bead what they want to bead, draw what they want to draw, put together whatever art form they want.

“Art is for everybody… But, I wouldn’t go and try to make another culture’s traditional work and make it my own, if you know what I mean. If I’m doing a traditional beadwork, I will pay tribute to and respect that tradition.”

In fact, Saultier is planning on teaching classes in the near future. She can’t say the exact dates yet, but “very soon.”

To keep up with her art, follow Jazenta on TikTok at; on Instagram at; and/or on Facebook at

Jazenta Saultier will be at the MJM&AG Gift Shop alongside Beth Crabb on Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of the 10th annual Moostletoe Tour.

(This article is part of’s coverage of local artists for the Moostletoe tour. Watch for further articles as the date approaches.)

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