Mary Such was born in Merritt but moved away as a young woman. After spending several years moving between different communities, she ended up a resident of Vancouver, where she became interested in traditional indigenous practices and joined a group of like-minded women.

“When I was living in Vancouver, I joined a group called the ‘Traditional Mothers and Grandmothers’,” said Such.

“We did drumming, and singing, and making regalia, so that’s how I got started. That was probably 10-15 years ago. I’ve been doing it off and on since then.”

Such found making regalia to be something she enjoyed, an art that allowed her to express her creativity and also provide others with unique garments and items both for ceremonial and everyday use.

It’s something I really enjoy doing, it’s creative and they’re one of a kind, there’s not two of them out there like what I make,” said the LNIB member.

“I make some outfits and I have a picture in my mind like, ‘oh I can do something like that’. Or if I like something I see, I’ll try to do something similar.”

Aside from her time with the ‘Traditional Mothers and Grandmothers’ group, Such is entirely self-taught, often taking on custom creations with nothing more than a request for a particular colour or to incorporate a specific animal or embellishment.

“I do ribbon shirts, ribbon skirts, ribbon dresses, sweat dresses, traditional regalia, fancy dance regalia, jingle dresses, and I do moss bags and cradle boards,” said Such.

“A moss bag is like a sleeping bag you put a baby in, and you tie it up and it’s comfortable. I usually just look at pictures and see if I can replicate something. I’d never made a cradleboard and I couldn’t get anybody to show me or teach me how to make one, so I just watched a video and looked at some photographs and just put it together.”

Regalia has become increasingly popular in recent years as indigenous youth continue to explore their traditions and culture, and to take part in dance competitions and powwows.

“I go to powwows and I see a lot of young people involved in those and other ceremonies,” said Such.