Birthdate: May 31, 1935 will be 80 yrs old
Born: Ile-a-la-Crosse, SK
Lives at Patuanak, SK
Mathilda grew up in Dipper Lake as a child with her parents, J.B and Clementine Garr who raised 14 children of their own. Her dad would build a log home for his family when he would relocate based on where his family needed to be. He was a hunter, fisherman, trapper and a Chief for one term when they moved to Patuanak. There were approximately 8 families that lived in Dipper Lake at that time and other families lived further down the river. School was built in the ’70’s at Patuanak when she moved with her husband to Patuanak.
Mathilda married Pierre Lariviere at age 22 on April 26, 1957 where they spent 18 beautiful years together until her husband died due to a boating incident. They had seven children: Rose, Paul, Florence, Mark, Peter, Hilda and Ivan. She had lost 2 at childbirth. To date, she enjoys 20 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
She started beading at the age of 9 or 10 years of age at the Beauval residential school during the year of 1943 or ’44. She says that Indian Affairs took them there by barge for the months of September to June. She recalls that they watched them so closely and were very mean and that she stayed there for 5 yrs. At age 16, she left the school with a grade 5 education because the school did not go any further that that.
Her mother, Clementine was also known as an exquisite artisan and was the one who showed her to bead and how to work on hides. She learned the various techniques of design and colour which reflected her natural environment in the northern beauty and land.
Today, her designs are drawn on paper by Margaret Sandypoint (another true artisan). Mathilda says you eventually develop the eye for design and colour placement.
She passed her knowledge to her daughter, Florence (Owen) and with a smile she says her grandchildren say ‘it’s boring’, and to hide-making she says ‘it stinks’. With a laugh, she says after the hide is smoked and finished, they just can’t quit smelling it and loving the smell of it.
Mathilda continues to work on her traditional skills as an artisan making hides and intricate beadwork and her work is recognized locally as extraordinary craftsmanship and meticulous art form. Her work is highly in demand and she is kept busy every day.