Shirley Kakfwi, an elder of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, loves to bead. Her community lives in one of the most remote parts of the Canadian Yukon territory, in a town called Old Crow, and Kakfwi has made them famous by supplying the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with head-beaded name tags.
In a phone interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Shirley explained how she got connected with the RCMP, though she had to put down her bead work to take the call.
“They want it, I guess. That’s why I do it,” said Kakfwi. An officer stationed in Old Crow became good friends with Kakfwi and requested a name tag. The rest is history.
“One day, she just said, ‘Do you sew?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, lots.’ She said, ‘Make me a name tag with beads, using the RCMP colours,” Kakfwi told CBC.
“Then she wanted some more for her friends, and then she wanted some more for her workers, and it just went on from there.”
The name tags are small, and feature blue white and yellow beads. They’re inconspicuous enough that the officers are allowed to wear them on their uniform, and they do so with pride.
“That’s going to be lasting,” said Cpl. Pat Russell to CBC. “That’s a keepsake I’ll have for the rest of my career.”