February 24, 2023
“Four Indigenous artists from the NWT had the opportunity last week to attend a national conference to promote the Proudly Indigenous Crafts and Designs(link is external) (PIC&D) brand, thanks to support from ITI’s NWT Arts Program and the Seals and Sealing Network (SSN) — a subcommittee of the Fur Institute of Canada.
The SSN mission is to bring together Canada’s sealing industry harvesters, processors, manufacturers, retailers, and Indigenous artists to promote and market high quality and sustainable Canadian Seal Products. More specifically, PIC&D is a partnership project between the Department of ITI (GNWT), the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (Government of Nunavut), and SSN, which aims to market and advocate for the use of sealskin in craft and design made by Indigenous artists. Partners are working to grow this platform to include Indigenous sealskin artists from across Canada, to show the importance and cultural connection to seal.
The PIC&D booth at the high-profile Northern Lights Business & Cultural Showcase(link is external) in Ottawa Feb 9-11, 2023 showcased four NWT artists that sell on the PIC&D e-commerce platform, providing an opportunity for them to share the story of their beautiful creations with delegates at the prestigious conference and to the general public of Ottawa. Over the course of three days, approximately 60 artists from across Inuit Nunangat participated in the pavilion’s marketplace doubling sales totals from the 2020 gathering. The resounding success confirms the interest that exists in Indigenous arts and crafts, and the public’s desire to support this beloved aspect of the traditional economy.
The NWT Arts Program(link is external) creates economic opportunities for NWT artists working with sealskin and continues to advocate and educate about the sustainable use of seal in Indigenous arts and culture. ITI’s Manager of Arts and Traditional Economies, Johanna Tiemessen also attended the conference, to support NWT artists and delivered a workshop to all artists on pricing and selling their artwork. While her workshop was developed for NWT artists of the NWT Arts Program, Tiemessen says national events like the Northern Lights Conference can help showcase solutions to shared problems; supporting artists across Canada’s north and helping the whole marketplace develop economic stability.
“It can be a challenge, especially as an artist, to price your work competitively and reach the right audience,” she says, “It’s a challenge that impacts artists across the north, not just in the NWT. The more northern artists understand about the importance of pricing accurately, the more stable the marketplace becomes for authentic handmade art and craft. The more valued these products become in the marketplace, the more profit artists will be able to receive for their work and the more they can contribute to the arts economy of the North.”