Angela Andrew remembered for her crafting of traditional tea dolls

The Innu artist travelled the world as an ambassador with her crafts.

Innu artist died Tuesday at the age of 72

Along with her doll-making, many remember Andrew for her infectious smile. (John Gaudi/CBC)

Angela Andrew, a Labrador artist best known for her crafting of traditional Innu tea dolls, died Tuesday at the age of 72. 

"She really loved doing her sewing. She would get up, six o'clock, and start sewing even before she had her tea. She loved it so much," daughter Jeannie Nuna said. 

Jeannie Nuna and Virginia Pater say they plan to continue their mother's traditional crafting. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Andrew travelled the world with her crafts, bringing the traditional dolls with her.

The dolls had a dual purpose in the traditional activities of the Innu people, acting both as a toy for a child and as a cache of tea for hunters that could be used during a time of famine.

Andrew's family is gathered in Sheshatshiu this week. Her funeral is being held on Monday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

With Andrew known to be an artistic ambassador for the Innu people, her family said, the dolls ended up in the possession of the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Pope John Paul, former prime minister Jean Chrétien and former U.S. president George W. Bush. 

"She made her dolls very well-detailed, and it also … showed how Innu people used to dress," daughter Virginia Pater said. 

"For her it was to show that the Innu are still very intact with their culture."

Andrew's daughters plan to wear red and black hats — traditionally worn by Innu women — to honour their mother's love for traditional Innu clothing. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Nuna said she and Pater plan to continue their mother's craft and hopefully pass it down. 

"I learned just by watching her," Nuna said. "We are going to continue sewing what she taught us."

Her smile said it all. Everybody knows her smile.- Eugene Hart

"For me it's keeping her legacy to go on what she started," Pater said.

"I have two grandchildren and I have children and I'd like to pass it on to them too."

Importance of language

Andrew was born in Sheshatshiu and grew up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She worked as an ESL instructor but also made sure she passed on her knowledge of the Innu-Aimun language.

"She would also teach to the non-Innu but also to the Innu kids that lost their language," Pater said. "It was very important for her."

Chief Eugene Hart visited Andrew recently in St. John's. (submitted)

Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation Chief Eugene Hart remembers Andrew for her role at church, one of the few elders who would translate what was being said into the Innu language.

"There's only certain people you hear in church that sing in our language," said Hart. "You don't hear that very often now." 

Many people bring up Andrew's infectious smile, in her hospital bed in St. John's, when asked what they remember most about her. (submitted)

He also remembers her infectious smile.

"Her smile said it all," Hart said. "Everybody knows her smile."

Angela and her husband, Etienne. (submitted)

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About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker reports on Labrador for CBC News from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.