Sisters in Faro, Yukon turning their interest in art, and their Kaska culture into a family business

Sisters in Faro, Yukon turning their interest in art, and their Kaska culture into a family business

Family that creates together, sticks together.

That’s particularly true for two sisters who live in Faro, Yukon. 

Myka and Trista Glada are members of the Kaska Dena Council. They’re combining their love for drawing, their interest in their Kaska culture, and an entrepreneurial spirit to create a profitable small business.

Myka, 17, and Trista, 15, create activity books, colouring books, and calendars, and sell them to across Yukon through craft fairs and online orders. Each book or calendar features the sisters’ unique art, and their Kaska language.

“The art I like to do is mostly wildlife,” Myka said in a recent interview.

“I’m really in to pop culture,” Trista added. 

The sisters admit they have very different styles — but the origin of where the passion for art comes from is the same.

Smiling girl holding a calendar
Myka Glada,17, holding the calendar she created. (Submitted by Kara Went)

“Our mom loved art,” Myka said. “Our mother passed away at least five years ago and she was basically our whole inspiration. We wanted to dedicate our art to her, to remember her.”

Revitalizing the Kaska language is also a driving factor behind their business venture.

“It’s kind of dying out,” Trista said. “And we’d like to bring it back to life. At least have people speak the language again, or at least have it remembered.”

Both girls said they’d like to go to University to study art once they graduate high school. 

A cover of a activity book
The cover of Trista Glada’s activity book. (Submitted by Kara Went)

But before moving on to post secondary education they want to do something they’ve wanted to do for a long time.

“We both want to go to Japan,” Trista said. “We’ve been saving our money to go. We’re very close. We might be going this year..”

‘So proud’

Faro resident Kara Went has called the girls a part of her family for the last three and a half years.

Went said it started when her family provided respite for the girls after their mother died. She said eventually the girls asked if they could move in with her.

“It was a tough one,” Went told CBC News. “We are not Kaska. We are not Indigenous, and it’s a hard one for social services to allow. So pretty much we were not allowed to have the girls move in with us permanently.”

But Went said that wasn’t going to stop them from trying. She said she lawyered up, and took it to court.

“We ended up having a bunch of groups really fighting on our side,” she said. “The girls got a youth advocate. Even the Ross River Dena Council ended backing us saying this is a good spot for the girls. So we really lucked out with having a lot of people who knew us and kind of stood behind us.”

Now the Glada sisters are living with Went, Went’s husband, and their two sons.

“We have a house of teenager chaos,” Went laughed. 

Picture of four kids walking two dogs.
For the last three years, Trista and Myka Glada (right) have been living with Kara Went and her family, including her two sons Hunter and Cavan (left). (Submitted by Kara Went)

Went said she is so proud to see the girls really coming into their own.

“They’ve gone to a craft fair in Faro,” she said. “One in Ross River. They had a set up in Whitehorse.”

“These were girls that in the past you know wouldn’t look up from the ground. They would just stare at the ground and walk by people. They were not confident enough to interact with other adults, or even with their peers. To see them now, to the point where they’re sitting at a table on their own selling their items… I’m so proud.”

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