Fish Tanning has been a long journey for me.
One day I was looking through some old books about the Lillooet People of Pemberton. I read this one sentence that sparked my interest: “The Lillooet People of Pemberton made fish leather.” The material ends up being very strong and water resistant.
Fish skin leather used to be common in many cultures throughout the world, including Japan, China and throughout the coastal regions of Canada but fizzled out in the 20th century. The loss of the craft is intertwined with colonialism and assimilation and very little is known about its history.
In recent days, a growing number of people are rediscovering the craft. I prayed, asked for answers, and talked to people for in search of more information. I met someone from the Squamish Nation. She had read in an old book that the Lil’wat People made fish leather and knew people who could teach me.
I prayed for a teacher. Janey Change started her journey 7 years ago and is now my teacher.
Check out my YouTube Playlist on the process of connecting with my ancestors and learning how to tan fish leather. It’s been a wonderful journey!