Two NWT artists have come through a field of more than 2,400 applicants to reach the semi-finals of Pow Wow Pitch, a national contest for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
The semi-finals, which begin in September, still feature more than 120 artists in 12 categories ranging from consumer and creative industries to businesses and non-profits.
Those who advance to the finals will be competing for a grand prize of $25,000 intended to help grow their business.
Tuktoyaktuk’s Christina King, known by her Inuit name Taalrumiq, is a semi-finalist in the fashion design category. Her business, also under the name Taalrumiq, features an Inuvialuit couture fashion label, Inuit fine art and consultancy .
Creating digital content on the likes of TikTok and providing cultural education in the form of workshops, cultural presentations and public speaking, Taalrumiq says she has been sewing her whole life.
“My earliest memories are of my mum making my own sewing kit for me. I just knew that I always wanted to be an artist and fashion designer, and I’m finally at that stage in my life where things are happening and I’m able to do the work that I love,” she said.
Taalrumiq was “quite nervous” about responding to Pow Wow Pitch’s call for Indigenous entrepreneurs to send videos explaining their business and what they would do with the grand prize.
If she were to win the $25,000, she says she would use the money to develop a logo and luxury brand packaging, build a website and purchase any necessary equipment she needs to continue creating.
“I’m working to just get my name out there, get more projects, provide services, and this seems like a good way to do it. And to win the grand prize would be amazing to help me continue doing what I love to do,” she told Cabin Radio.
Tanis Simpson, originally from Sachs Harbour, now runs Qiviut Inc from Edmonton. The second semi-finalist with an NWT background, Simpson has been processing qiviut yarn, made from the undercoat of muskox, since she was a young child.
In 2019, she opened a fibre mill where she processes the yarn and makes the likes of scarves, neck warmers, toques and fingerless gloves.
Being one of few qiviut fibre mills in Canada, Simpson decided to apply to Pow Wow Pitch knowing she produces a unique product.
For thousands of years, she says, Inuit people have lined their mitts and shoes with the fibre to survive one of the world’s coldest climates.
Simpson says if she wins the $25,000, she’ll use it to source environmentally friendly packaging for the handwarmers she makes, which are currently sold in plastic bags. She’ll also invest some money in Qivuit Inc’s marketing and its production techniques.
Pow Wow Pitch says its semi-finals will be broadcast online from September 6-16 at 4pm daily, with viewers able to register to watch business owners’ pitches.
Simpson’s pitch will be broadcast on September 7 and Taalrumiq’s on September 9.