June 9–12, 2022

Hide Tanning


Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival 2022

Hide Tanning

Photo courtesy of the artist


Join us for a four-day hands-on brain hide tanning workshop with Amber Sandy and Kanina Terry. Brain hide tanning is the art of preserving animal hides using emulsifying agents in the animal’s brain, which helps break up the membranes that cause animal hides to harden. Interestingly, each animal’s brain has enough enzymes for its own skin. Indigenous people have been using this method to make leather for clothing, adobes and vehicles since time immemorial. Today, tanned leather is used for clothing, footwear, jewellery, tools and instruments. 

Participants will experience each step of the tanning process of moose and deer hides, including scraping, soaking, drying, softening and smoking. Participants will also learn how to obtain and prepare tools and will work on the hides at various processing stages to complete the process. 

Hide tanning can be laborious and messy so this workshop will be outside. Dress appropriately for getting dirty and in possible chilly weather.


Amber Sandy is a member of Neyaashiinigmiing (Chippewas of Nawash First Nation), living in Noelville, Ontario. She is an artist focusing on leatherwork, beadwork and tufting. Sandy is a hide tanner and uses moose, deer and fish skins to make leather by hand. As the Indigenous Knowledge and Science Outreach coordinator for SciXchange at “X” University, she is an enthusiastic advocate for Indigenous science. Sandy’s work focuses on the intersections of Indigenous knowledge and western science in her approach to conservation, environmental science, education and art. She is passionate about increasing access to traditional land-based practices for Indigenous peoples. 

Kanina Terry is an Anishnaabe-kwe with an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) mother and a white father. She was born and currently lives on her mother’s traditional lands of Obishikokang (Lac Seul First Nation) in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Terry finds inspiration from her teachers, ancestors, Indigenous artists and knowledge holders and is determined to reclaim knowledge and skills that assimilation, colonialism and residential schools denied her. She began tanning deer hides in 2017 and successfully tanned her first moose hide in 2021. Working with hides had given Terry a connection to her maternal grandparents, who passed away before she was born and had the skills and knowledge to tan hides. 

Dates & Times

June 9
10am – 5:30pm

June 10
10am – 5:30pm

June 11
10am – 5:30pm

June 12
10am – 5:30pm

More Info

Hide Tanning is a 4-day workshop, participants are required to be present each day.


South Lawn

235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON

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