For the first time, a Tłı̨chǫ holiday sale is held in Yellowknife
The first Yellowknife holiday sale dedicated to Tłı̨chǫ artists welcomed more than 600 visitors at the city’s Tree of Peace friendship centre on Saturday, organizers said.
Ten artists from Yellowknife, Behchokǫ̀ and Whatì had tables at the day-long event, which was considered a pilot for what could be a larger sale next year.
The creation of a holiday sale for Tłı̨chǫ crafts in Yellowknife is part of a broader Tłı̨chǫ Government economic strategy.
“We have been doing them in the community and we wanted to expand to the Yellowknife market,” said Giselle Marion, the Tłı̨chǫ Government’s director of client services, of Saturday’s sale. “We feel we have so many great artists that we can really do a beautiful event like we’ve done today.
“Today has been very successful. A lot of the artists have sold out and our store, the Tłı̨chǫ Arts store, has really done well.”
Through a contest, visual artist Angus Beaulieu was chosen to be featured at the sale and to have a range of extra products developed on his behalf.
Alongside Beaulieu’s paintings, shoppers on Saturday could buy the likes of clocks, wrapping paper, socks and blankets emblazoned with his designs.
“I’m so happy that we have something like this to recognize us,” Beaulieu said.
Workshops on subjects like sewing and how to price items were held ahead of the sale. Artists from outside Yellowknife had travel and accommodation expenses covered.
Whatì-based Samantha Migwi, in her first year selling crafts, said the day had been “nerve-wracking” but, ultimately, successful.
“I just started this summer. I needed another hobby. I was trying to slow down my outdoor life – we go to the bush, we go boating, hunting, and I kind-of needed to slow down,” Migwi told Cabin Radio.
“My cousin came up from Edmonton and said, ‘Come bead with me.’ I said I didn’t have the patience, but I sat there for four hours helping her bead. And now look at this,” she said, gesturing to a table at which she was selling items created by Migwi herself, an aunt and a brother.
Yellowknife resident Alicia Camille, whose family is from Whatì, runs Nezı̨ı̨̀ Dı̀ı̀ Designs, selling the likes of beaded jewellery, head and neckwarmers, mittens and keychains.
Her grandmother taught her to sew as a teenager, she said, but she only began in earnest four years ago.
“I think they’ve done a really good job at supporting artists. Everything was well organized, we didn’t have to worry about a thing,” Camille said.
Artists were invited to dinner with Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty earlier in the week, which some felt was an opportunity to press the case for supporting and showcasing artists as an avenue for economic development.
Marion says feedback from Saturday’s visitors is being noted, like requests for a more diverse range of products and the possibility of photographs with Tłı̨chǫ Santa in future.
“This is the foundation,” she said. “We would like to go bigger and better next year.”