The Espaniel design gets it’s name from our maternal grandmother’s maiden name. The Espaniel’s have a legacy of strong fierce leaders. This leadership has taken many forms and with this design we will share facets of that leadership and resiliency. This earring design is part of an evolving Espaniel Family Archive Project to honour our ancestors. 



Susan Espaniel. Our great grandmother.

Playful, mischievous, passionate, fierce, resilient, beautiful, industrious. There aren’t quite proper adjectives in our limited English language to describe the character of Susan Espaniel. We wonder if the Anishinaabe language would have more suitable words to describe her. Susan was a fluent language speaker - despite attending residential school. She actually worked as a translator sometimes for the courts to help non-english speakers with their cases. 

Objectively speaking, she had a very hard life. Her father died when she was very young, she attended residential school in Spanish River, one of the most notoriously abusive schools in Ontario, she buried 4 of her 7 children in her lifetime. Her husband, while supportive, was gone for very long periods of time while he was fighting fires. All of this we know, but much of her story we don’t know. We can only imagine the other abuses she experienced being a young native girl in the early 1900s. However - her smile persisted. The brandy in her tea cup might have helped, but the nature of her heart remained true. 

We have to imagine, whether conscious or not, one of the ways she processed all this trauma was through beadwork. Her patterns were directly from her spirit. The colours chosen were energetic. Those who wore her moccasins had the gift of her medicine. Our grandma Yvette told us that her kids would wear out the soles of their moccasins and have to bring them to great grandma for mending. Even though it took work to mend, it made her so happy to see her grandchildren wearing their mocs so religiously. This small choice of disposition paints the picture of the bigger story of her life. She chose to see the beautiful, the good, the hopeful - instead of all the pain. This lesson is one we can all be reminded of; we have the power to write the narrative of our lives. We can complain and choose to be victim to circumstance, or we can look for the silver linings, the lessons, the opportunities and choose to keep moving with a smile in our hearts.


  • Handmade
  • Original Commanda Collective design 
  • .925 sterling silver findings and wire protectors
  • Glass beads
  • Fresh water pearls (30 per pair) 
  • Hangs approx. 4 inches from ear