Audrey Heath honours Lax Gibuu spirit through beading

The local Indigenous artist weaves culture, community, and creativity

Various beaded fringe earrings of different patterns and colours hang on display at an outdoor vendor market.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Audrey Heath

By: Anna Kazi, Peak Associate

Nestled in the unceded and traditional territories of the Kwikwetlem, Tsleil-Waututh, Stó:lō, Qayqayt and Stz’uminus Peoples resides the beautiful Lax Gibuu beadwork created by Audrey Heath.

Heath comes from the Gitxsan Nation in Northern British Columbia and holds “various European ancestries, such as French and Scottish.” As a fourth-year student at SFU completing a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in communication and Indigenous studies, she also works at the SFU Indigenous Student Centre as Indigenous student life coordinator.

When not studying or working at SFU, Heath creates one-of-a-kind Indigenous beadwork jewellery on her Instagram page, @Laxgibuu.beads. “My family comes from the Lax Gibuu or ‘Wolf Clan,’ and it’s a way of recognizing my ancestors,” she told The Peak.

Heath started her beading journey in 2021. “Lax Gibuu Beads has given me the opportunity to continue to connect with my culture, be a part of an amazing Indigenous community of artists, and truly enjoy the work I am doing.”

Heath was introduced to beading in a workshop hosted by the SFU Indigenous Student Centre and facilitated by Nêhiyaw Métis iskwew artist Rebekah Stevens — a fellow beader on Instagram at @beksbeads. “I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment seeing peers, staff, and faculty wearing earrings that I make,” she said.

Lax Gibuu Beads’ art includes styles ranging from colourful and hand-woven fringe earrings to intricately designed beaded earrings with hummingbirds, and sparkly pop sockets with Czech beads. At my convocation ceremony, I was grateful and honoured to have worn statement blue and white gradient earrings adorned with Czech beads.

One of the jewellery pieces Heath talked about were the delicately handcrafted earrings with a cascading white and black bugle beads base, followed by a vibrant green and pink hummingbird pattern in the beaded fringe. She custom made it as a birthday present for her friend’s mother. “The hummingbird holds cultural significance to my family, so creating these earrings meant a lot to me.”

Heath shared her challenges as a business owner, saying, “This journey has not been easy, especially while working a 9:00–5:00 and going to school. Despite periods of inactivity or long days sitting at markets as a new business and few clients, I have learned a lot.”

Lax Gibuu Beads is also a platform to support communities and meaningful causes. Heath recently participated in a raffle hosted by @oceanloverjen on Instagram to support the aftermath of devastating wildfires in Lahaina, Maui. Additionally, Heath also donated the proceeds from her Orange Shirt Day pins to the Orange Shirt Day Society.

“To me, the goal of Lax Gibuu beads is not just to make money but to share my creativity and give back to my community,” she said.

You can purchase Heath’s beaded accessories via her Instagram page. Commissions are accepted as indicated in the bio. 

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