Mayo, Yukon: Blessed Beading; Where Cultures Meet

For more than a century the people of Mayo, Yukon have beautified their church with furnishings that reflect their love for the Creator and for the land, as well as their amazing talent as beaders and crafters. This tradition came to life in 2019-2020 when members of the parish of St. Mary with St. Mark put their needles to work for their church.

Some of the crafters remember the old Church of St. Mark, built downstream from present day Mayo. There, in the early years of the twentieth century the First Nation minister, The Rev. Julius Kendi, encouraged the parishioners to create a full set of beaded church furnishings, including a beaded altar frontal, pulpit and lectern hangings. In the 1950s residents were moved to Mayo, merging their parish with that of St. Mary, Mayo.

The altar at St. Mary’s church was larger than St. Mark’s, so for many years the prized altar frontal from the Old Village did not quite fit. For eighteen months in 2019-2020, Mayo’s Blessed Beaders worked to create ‘superfrontals’ or special coverings for the top of the altar in red, green, purple, and moose hide. Their work was supported by the parish, the territorial and the First Nation governments.

In October 2020, Diocese of Yukon Bishop Lesley Wheeler-Dame and Na-cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn joined to celebrate the beaders amazing artistry. Their beautiful handiwork was blessed at a special church service in Mayo, and a presentation of beading made to Chief Mervyn.

The parish has produced a book called Blessed Beading, Where Cultures Meet; A Century of Traditional Crafts in Mayo, Yukon. The book showcases the work of the beaders. The book is available for purchase from St. Mary with St. Mark; Box 309; Mayo, YT. Y0B 1M0. The cost is $12.00 per book.

Licensed Lay Minister, Dr. Charles Maier
Bishop, Rt. Rev. Lesley Wheeler-Dame

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