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Revitalizing A Lost Art

Gordon Bouchard has been piercing for seventeen years and is covered in tattoos. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that he found himself following a new path in his industry.

“I’ve always been interested in traditional style tattoos – it’s something I’ve been looking into for over 20 years for myself. I went to a lecture in Toronto in November and they were talking about traditional Inuit tattoos and how there was a resurgence in this style of tattooing,” said Bouchard. “There was a lot of talk about issues of cross-contamination and cleanliness because people were just doing it, but they hadn’t worked in the industry before.”

Those that have been in Bouchards shop, Golden Horseshoe Tattoo & Piercing know that health, safety and cleanliness is not something he takes lightly.

“I just had one of those inspired moments where I realized this was something I wanted to do,” he said.

From there he researched different designs and techniques, ultimately landing on a modern take of the traditional hand-poke. Using disposable needles and tubes with a device that binds them together as opposed to traditional needles, quills, bones and other sharp objects, Bouchard is committed to guaranteeing cleanliness with his tattoos.

“I’m trying to take the approach of old designs done in an old manner (by hand, without power) but in a modern clean environment,” he said. “It’s all tapped-in by hand.”

The traditional indigenous tattoos that he practices are meant for ‘us’, he explained. “It’s a cultural thing. I’m not saying that people can’t get these designs. I’ll gladly draw them up and charge a design fee that will go to a charitable organization, but one of our artists will apply it.”

“I don’t want to be taken the wrong way, and I might come across as abrasive, but we’ve had enough taken away from us. This is something I’d like to help take back for ourselves. Sorry. It’s something that’s for us. It’s not for everybody,” Bouchard said.

“If you want to get something done from another culture, that’s fine. Research it, find someone who’s willing to do it for you. I’m trying to do something for the traditional aspect of it, so traditionally the general public wouldn’t be able to get it. It’s nothing offensive.”

Bouchard explained that he is not practicing this form as a fad, or as a means to make money. He is just helping indigenous people feel connected to their heritage, while raising funds for charitable organizations along the way.

“It’s not mine to make money off of. One of the organizations I’m going to donate to is the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. They have an old residential school from the 1800s and they are raising funds for repairs and renovations. It’s one of the few residential schools still standing in Canada. I want to bring awareness to that. I’ll also be donating to our regional Native Centre, I’d love to give them more too,” he said.

“These aren’t my designs. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to make money of this. I make money off of piercing people – that’s my job. That’s what I do for a living. This is my way of giving something back to us.”

If you’re interested in Bouchard’s tattoos, feel free to reach out to him at Golden Horseshoe Tattoo & Piercing in St. Catharines.

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