Beading and Jacket

Ida Simon is a maker of traditional Mi’kmaw regalia and recreated a historical Mi’kmaw beaded jacket for the Nova Scotia Museum’s educational use.
Ida Simon (Sipekne’katik First Nation) has been making Indigenous regalia of different sorts for many years, but always had a deep desire to bring Mi’kmaw regalia to the fore. In her years of making, she has seen an increase in interest and excitement of a younger generation to participate in powwows with regalia and embrace Mi’kmaw cultural and spiritual practices.
Ida Simon - Mi'kmaw Regalia - Sipekne'katik First Nation

Various regalia made by Ida Simon, including ribbon skirts and shirts, headdresses, fancy shawls, moccasins, peaked cap, and jingle dresses. Ida often uses appliqué for the double-curve motif, rather than beadwork. 

Bottom row (1st and 2nd images from left): Ron Knockwood (District Chief for Grand Council for Sipekne’katik Mainland); Chief Annie Bernard of Waycobah First Nation, Cape Breton.  

Ida Simon with Chief's Regalia

Ida Simon with jacket she sewed and beaded for Ron Knockwood, District Chief for Grand Council for Sipekne’katik Mainland. Wendy Marr beaded the centre medallion of the headdress. Photo by Stuart Knockwood.

Tracing of a Mi'kmaw petroglyph - Nova Scotia Archives

Interpretation of this 1888 Mi’kmaw petroglyph is “insignia of a Chief”. This was the basis of the beaded medallion on the headdresses for the Grand Council of Sipekne’katik Mainland. Image from George Creed Mi’kmaq Petroglyphs, Nova Scotia Archives.

In 2018, along with Wendy Marr, Ida made a replica of a chief’s ornamented coat that is part of the Nova Scotia Museum’s collection. The original garment was worn by Chief John Noel (1829-1911) and made by Mrs. Albert Paul of the Sipekne’katik First Nation. Beadwork and this style of jacket would have been post-contact costume – a result of phasing out of many pre-colonial materials and techniques in favour of cloth, ribbon, beads from European influence (Whitehead, 1980). The style of jacket would have been influenced by military greatcoats.
Roger Lewis - Chief's Coat - Nova Scotia Museum

Roger Lewis, showing the jacket at the Nova Scotia Museum. March, 2021.

Mi’kmaw peaked cap with double-s curve beading, side view - Nova Scotia Museum

Mi’kmaw peaked cap with double-s curve beading, side view. Made in the 1800s. Image used with permission from the Nova Scotia Museum.

The double-curve motif is prominently used in Mi’kmaw beadwork, symbolizing the beginning and the end of life with a specific person’s life story in between.
Andrea had the privilege of speaking with Ida on a few occasions about her experience making regalia, what she has learned, and what has changed over the years.

01 Ida’s journey of making Mi’kmaw regalia

Ida’s grandmother taught her how to bead as a youngster, which blossomed into a lifelong interest in making regalia. Over the decades, Ida has watched her community’s interest in wearing traditional regalia to powwows grow. At first, what was attractive to people was the jiggle dresses and fancy shawls of Indigenous nations in more western regions. But now, Mi’kmaw regalia — the colours and styles are more subdued — is gaining popularity as people learn more about it.

02 The double-curve motif

Ida talks about the traditional Mi’kmaw beaded double-curve motif. She learned from an elder that it represents the beginning and the end of life, mirroring each other. The middle motifs are unique and represent the wearer of the regalia and their life story. The different designs can indicate spirituality, identity, and culture. When Ida beads, she feels connected to her ancestors, who did this before her.

03 The jacket replica

In 2018, Ida and her friend Wendy were commissioned by the Nova Scotia Museum to make a replica of a chief’s jacket from the early 1900s. A year’s worth research, finding the right materials — wool, beads, piping — and garment construction yielded a garment that could be displayed without wear and tear on the original piece.

The beaded jacket reproduction on display at the Nova Scotia Museum.

The design for the parkade building replicates the beading motifs on the jacket that Ida and Wendy made.
Ida Simon - Mi'kmaw Beading

In Conversation, Beading, Andrea Tsang Jackson

The Mi’kmaw Grand Council (Sante Mawiomi) granted Andrea permission to use the beading motifs in this way.


Whitehead, Ruth Holmes. Elitekey: Micmac Material Culture from 1600 A.D. to the Present. Nova Scotia Museum, 1980.
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Andrea Tsang Jackson is a Canadian-born visual artist of Chinese descent based in Kjipuktuk / Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her work takes the traditional craft medium of quilting and applies it to a contemporary context.


This project is possible with the participation of many people who offered their time, knowledge, and collaboration.