Vanessa Ægirsdóttir poses for a photo in her shop, Wild Yukon Furs, in Horwoods Mall in Whitehorse on June 2. Ægirsdóttir was awarded the Craft Council of British Columbia design innovation award for her fur jewelry work in a juried selection that featured 200 designs by nearly 60 artists from across the country. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukoner receives design innovation award for jewelry

Vanessa Ægirsdóttir work featured in juried selection of BC Craft Council

Vanessa Ægirsdóttir is already well-known in the Yukon for her fur jewelry and textile artwork sold out of her Wild Yukon Furs shop in Horwoods Mall, but her work is also earning the acclaim of the Craft Council of British Columbia.

Ægirsdóttir was awarded the council’s design innovation award for her fur jewelry work in a juried selection that featured 200 designs by nearly 60 artists from across the country.

Like so many things, the ceremony for the awards, which would typically be handed out in-person, were moved to a virtual event this year in light of COVID-19.

Ægirsdóttir was pleased to learn of the honour for her work, the only work in the selection that featured fur.

“This was welcome news,” she said in a June 2 interview at her shop, highlighting the timing of the award during the global pandemic.

Within her shop are earrings featuring the winning designs: hoops lined with fur, dangling pieces featuring fur from Yukon wild animals (foxes, wolverines, lynx and more) and earrings that feature the fur with copper cones. Copper, she noted, is a material that has significance in the Tlingit culture as a symbol of wealth, honouring her husband’s culture.

The pieces are simply constructed and designed to showcase the fur.

Given the nature of fur, no two pieces are the same even when the fur for the two earrings is coming from the same animal.

While she was pleased to be recognized by the Craft Council of BC, other plans for her work have stalled.

Ægirsdóttir said she and her husband George Bahm, a Tlingit trapper who supplies much of the fur Ægirsdóttir uses in her jewelry, had plans to open another shop in Skagway, Alaska, this year but those plans are clearly on hold for now.

That said, she noted this gives them more time to make connections in Skagway and explore other initiatives for the business and jewelry line.

As for when she sees opening up in Skagway as a possibility, she couldn’t say, pointing out “there’s just too many unknowns right now.”

If it’s meant to be, she said, she’s learned from previous experience that rushing isn’t the way to go.

“I can’t get out of it,” she said of the current situation, adding she is open to what may come.

It was being open that led to the award and seeing the potential for a store in Skagway, not to mention the opening of the Wild Yukon Furs space in Horwoods.

“I never meant to have a store,” she said with a laugh.

In fact it was never her intention to do any trapping or processing work, but when she and Bahm were dating she soon realized she may not see him through the winter unless she was helping him with the work and began joining him to help process the furs.

After she began making fur jewelry, she soon found there were questions about trapping that she didn’t have answers to, so she joined him when he went out to his trap line. Thinking it would be a good chance to observe, she soon learned she would be helping and it wasn’t long before she was on her own sled joining Bahm in the work.

Throughout November to March — with the timing dependant on the animal they’re trapping — she and Bahm run 180 kilometres of trapline in the South Canol area, with the trapline having to be checked every week (or every five days for some animals). At the same time, Ægirsdóttir continues her artwork and jewelry work while also running the store, and Bahm works a full-time job.

“It’s like two full-time jobs (for each of us) all winter long,” she said, though she added it is on the trapline where she has learned more about herself than anywhere else.

“It is where we restore.”

For her husband, it is a place of connection with his Tlingit heritage in a place where his ancestors walked before him.

Through her jewelry design and production, Ægirsdóttir said she wants to honour First Nations cultures and raise awareness about the value of fur.

Signs in her shop feature the Tlingit language of her husband’s family as well as Southern Tutchone as the store is on the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

Ægirsdóttir said she works hard to honour her husband’s culture.

Bahm is often called on to vet her pieces and she has also collaborated with First Nations artists on her pieces.

She also limits her fur purchases to those coming from Indigenous trappers, paying a premium for the fur in her effort to ensure trappers are fairly compensated for the product and that the value of the fur and animal is recognized.

While it may be some time before plans come together for Ægirsdóttir to move forward with a second shop in Skagway, she said she will continue working to showcase Yukon fur.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The pieces of jewelry at Wild Yukon Furs in Whitehorse on June 2, that won Ægirsdóttir the Craft Council of BC design innovation award. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read