Drywalling by day and rugmaking by night
- NC Raine | September 05, 2023
What started out as a hobby has quickly grown into a flourishing business.
Chastity Shingoose-McNab discovered she has a unique talent for making rugs.
“It was just supposed to be a hobby, something to help me with my anxiety,” she said. “I was just going to gift the rugs to my family, but this has ended up being something much bigger.”
Shingoose-McNab, from Cote First Nation, has been operating her second business, Indigenized Rugz, since late 2022, but already she has created large rugs for First Nations in Saskatchewan including Muscowpetung First Nation, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and Cote First Nation. First Nations from Alberta and tribes from the United States have reached out to her.
“My uncle, from Cote First Nation, asked me to make a rug for them,” she said. “They posted it on social media and it just kind of blew up from there. People are finding me and making requests for quite large rugs.”
Shingoose-McNab has always been fascinated by the production of rugs and watched rug-making videos for a few years before delving into the craft.
Entirely self-taught, her process starts with projecting the design on monk’s cloth. She then traces it out on cloth to serve as a stencil. From there, she threads her yarn through a tufting gun to grate the rug, then works on the backing and trimming. The process can take her up to 40 hours from start to finish.
But says the most important step happens before she even starts a project.
“I was not raised in my culture, it was taken away from my family, said Shingoose-McNab. “My grandfather went to residential school and didn’t want my mother to go through the same thing, so he took us away.”
Reconnecting with her cultural practices is an important part of the creative process.
“So now, every time I do a rug, I do a smudge and pray, asking for guidance,” said Shingoose-McNab. “I think that’s how I’m able to do this so easily and naturally.”
Despite her talent, the biggest challenge in producing rugs is time.
Shingoose-McNab also owns a business called Extreme Trappers Taping – a mudding and taping business that essentially protects drywall and improves its look. Operating this business for a decade means Shingoose-McNab will sometimes work until the evening, at which point she will come home and work on her rugs until the early morning hours.
“I’m just really motivated by my step-kids,” she said. “They are starting to take interest in learning these businesses as well. So I’m really just doing this for the youth and helping out anyone who wants to learn.”
Shingoose-McNab hopes to open a studio in Edmonton, her current city of residence, where youth can come in and learn first-hand how to make rugs.
“When I was young, I had a lot of amazing mentors and support in my life,” said Shingoose-McNab. “But I know some people don’t have that. And there’s a lot of young people suffering from depression and anxiety. So, I want youth to know there’s something and someone out there for them.”
The impact of something so simple, like making rugs, has changed her life and she knows it’s just the beginning.
“I just can’t wait to share my experiences with youth and anyone who wants to learn, anyone who might need it in the way I did,” said Shingoose-McNab. “I think it can help a lot of people because I know it helped me with my anxiety and personal issues. I think it saved my life, to be honest.”