Caribou People Creations, an online store dedicated to Łutselkʼe clothing, jewellery, tools, and artwork, launched on Tuesday.
Operated by the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation (LKDFN), the website features a range of handmade goods including earrings, moccasins, and carvings.
The venture will provide locals “a wider audience for their arts and crafts” and support the “preservation of Dënesųłıné culture and traditions,” the First Nation said in a news release.
“The Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation is working towards developing more local economic opportunities that are sustainable and respectful of the environment and our traditional ways,” Chief Darryl Marlowe was quoted as saying.
“Our new online store, Caribou People Creations, is another tool we will use to showcase all the talent our community has to offer the world.”
Each piece is handmade with materials from the land, such as hides or caribou antlers, often using traditional practices and methods of creation.
Florence Catholique, a Łutselkʼe artisan, stated in the news release: “Sewing and creating crafts has always been a reconnection with our culture and expression of skills that have been passed on from generations. It has allowed us to be proud to exercise those skills into the future.
“Our grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunties, and uncles all taught us skills, be it sewing, carving, making snowshoes, or making bone tools. All the women knew how to sew when I was growing up and we did not have that in residential school; we had to relearn from them in our language, to keep our identity alive as Dënesųłı̨né people.
“The expression of appreciation by those they crafted for was the reward.”
LKDFN is “in the midst of several new economic development initiatives,” the First Nation stated. The nearby Thaidene Nëné was last year designated an Indigenous Protected Area, national park, and territorial protected area.
The First Nation, which is responsible for stewardship of the area, assumed ownership of the Frontier Lodge in January with plans to expand tourism operations in the area.
Alongside providing a space for local operators to facilitate tours, the First Nation aims to turn the lodge – which has been in use for 60 years – into “an interpretative and administrative centre for Thaidene Nëné.”