Mathew Flaherty was born in Iqaluit in 1998. Very few births still take place elsewhere in Nunavut as Iqaluit, the territory’s only city, is also home to its only general hospital. Mathew grew up in the small Inuit hamlet of Grise Fiord, the northernmost public community in Canada. At the age of seven Mathew carved his first sculpture, of a polar bear. While Mathew is largely self-taught, he was influenced by the distinguished Grise Fiord artist Looty Pijamini. Although Mathew does not come from a family of artists, he is a distant relative of the famous filmmaker Robert Flaherty who directed and produced the first commercially successful feature-length documentary film, Nanook of the North in 1922.
In 2019, Mathew moved to Kinngait (Cape Dorset) where he was taught further sculpting techniques by resident artist Parr Parr.