Uniquely Indigenous arts and designs will once again be up for grabs in time for your holiday shopping at Dene Nahjo’s second annual Winter Market in Yellowknife, December 18 from 12-5 p.m.
Contemporary and traditional Indigenous artists and designers from the North will be exhibiting and selling their spectacular, one-of-a-kind works that celebrate culture and the land at the Champagne Room on the second floor of the 50/50 Mini-Mall downtown.
For organizers Melaw Nakehk’o and Tania Larsson, the market is an important forum to showcase the exceptional talent and centuries’ old traditions of Northern Indigenous artists in a setting that celebrates and affirms their cultural identities and connections to the land.
“Throughout our entire histories as Indigenous peoples, art has been an important part of our identities, from the way we travel to our clothing to our homes,” says Nakehk’o. “Art is a part of our genetic makeup, and it’s crucial that we continue to make opportunities for that creativity to be sustained and supported.”
“Art and innovation are integral to maintaining the continuity between tradition and future that gives us our strength as Indigenous Peoples,” says Larsson. “By supporting Indigenous artists, we are honouring the resilience of our ancestors and celebrating the promising future of our next generations.”
Along with artist vendors, the market will feature music by DJ Eugene Boulanger and specialty Northern brunch cocktails to enjoy while you shop.
Read about the 14 featured artists and their artwork below.
Angela Jack’s company Kamamak Cosmetics (Kamamak means butterfly in Cree) is a paraben free colour cosmetics line based out of Yellowknife. The line consists of lipstick, eye shadow, blush, N’iso cream, and liquid matte lipstick. Right now the lipstick features limited edition gold butterfly art by Alicia Smith out of Vancouver.
Inuk was born, raised and continues to live in the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada; she is of Eskimo (Inuvialuit) and European descent. Inuk’s art journey began in the spring of 1990, when she surprised herself and others as well with her ‘natural ability to caribou hair tuft’. Learning to tuft helped her find, develop and hone her own techniques and create her own unique style of caribou hair tufting. Since then, she has been reviving and successfully bringing tufting to new heights and into the fine art category, worldwide, using caribou hair. As you view her art, you see her love of it and it show’s in every piece, you can see the utmost care in quality and originality, which you will enjoy for years to come.
Don Antoine is a local Dene carver/artist who specializes in using Indigenous materials such as moose and caribou bone/antler. He was born and raised in the North, originating from Fort Simpson, and is currently making his home in Yellowknife. He is self-taught, and uses a variety of different drilling, colouring, and smoothing techniques to create pieces that are striking and unique.
Gloria Enzoe is a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation who lives in Lutsel K’e with her three boys and husband. Her love for arts and crafts was learned over time from her mother and father, who both enjoyed their own crafting. Her mom beaded, worked on hides and was very active out on the land. Her dad was always drumming and singing. Working with her husband, who does all the cutting and polishing, they are able to make their unique pieces come to life. Growing up in the Lutsel K’e allows them to be one with the land. Spirituality, culture, values and customs are very important to their lifestyle at home, and guides them individually and as a community to do good for their people, the surroundings, the lands and waters and all the animals that live there.
Jesse Larocque of Yellowknife makes beaded jewelry to keep the art of beadwork alive through future generations. Six years ago, Jesse started learning from her great grandmother Violet Beaulieu. She beads to share the beauty of this tradition with as many people as possible, and also enjoys teaching anyone who wants to learn!
Neco Towtongie makes ulus, traditional Inuit women’s knives. He taught himself after his grandfather passed away because it was something his grandfather did for years as a way to make an income. Now, Neco is carrying on tradition and his grandfather’s memory.
Nathalie Taylor has also been creating beautiful seal skin pins and hair pieces. She also plans on making seal skin designs on key chains, as well as jackets for dogs in different sizes and colours.
For Rosalind Mercredi, art is the thread that winds its way through life; mixed media art, painting first in oils, then in acrylics and watercolour, drawing, sewing, building and creating. Then she discovered the possibilities of glass and with its range of colours and textures and with the addition of new elements such as river stone, wood, antler and shells all coming together to create something new. Rosalind currently does art glass work under the name Northsoul Glass Studio, where she explores the process of stained glass, sculpture fused glass and painting on Glass. She also operates the Down to Earth Gallery in Yellowknife where along with selling her own artwork, she also sells artwork from over 100 Northern artists.
Sharon Anne Firth of the Gwich’in First Nation grew up traditionally with her family – sewing, hunting, trapping and fishing in Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories. As a four-time Olympian, Sharon has traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe and Japan. She continues to champion her causes: education, fitness, traditional and healthy lifestyles. Her activism has resulted in her membership into the prestigious Order of Canada, and she is also a very proud recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. As a result of these experiences, Sharon’s jewellery and fur products fuse her rich traditional upbringing with today’s complexity of fashion. Sharon strongly believes that every woman should feel beautiful, feminine and strong.
Photographer Shawna McLeod was born and raised in the Northwest Territories, and spent most of her life in the Deh Cho region, living in the small Indigenous community of Fort Providence. Growing up, she was always known to have a camera of some sort on hand – ready to capture interesting images. In 2012, she graduated with a diploma in professional photography from the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, BC. It was while attending photography school that she recognized beauty shots, traditional clothing and Northern backdrops came together very well in a photograph. She currently resides in Yellowknife with her family and travels to Northern communities to take portraits of families and individuals, weddings, landscape photos and traditional and non-traditional community events. Her photography is featured in numerous publications, websites and media including: the Up Here Magazine, Cree Nation and Yukon Ordinary. She’s also a blogger for an online indigenous women’s collective called Tea & Bannock.
Robyn McLeod is an Indigenous woman from the Deh Cho Region. She is 29 years old and her parents are Michael and Joyce McLeod. She is currently a student at Deh Gah School taking a distance education course. Robyn is an artist who specializes in beaded jewelry, a fashion designer, certified yoga instructor and traditional games facilitator, who travels around the NWT with the Aboriginal Sport Circle teaching students about Dene games. Robyn is a person who is very interested in re-connecting to the land and her culture. She recently spent the summer volunteering with the Dehcho K’ehodi Stewardship program in Fort Simpson and in Kakisa. She also attended a month long Program Called Trails of our Ancentors at Edehzheh (Willow lake) on the Horn Plateau. She believes that learning together as a community is the way to keep the culture alive and bringing elders and youth together is an important part of understanding our land, people and the our language.
James Wedzin is a Tlicho artist born and raised by his grandmother in Behchoko, NT. James praises his grandmother for inspiring and encouraging his early interest in traditional art. He watched her intricate bead work endlessly and developed his own sense of style in art. He started at age four and by age fourteen his talents developed to the point that his artwork was a demand. He started selling his creations and became a full-time artist. Today, you can find James’ work in galleries and in the hands of many private collectors. James is one of the better known Aboriginal artists in Canada, known for his paintings of Northern landscapes, animal imagery and Northern lights.
Chipewyan Dene artist John Rombough was born in the remote community of Sioux Lookout in Northern Ontario, Canada. At the age of three, John was adopted by Carol and Lyall Rombough, a Prince Edward Island couple. He attributes his early interest in drawing and painting to being raised in their giving and artistic environment. As a young adult, John began the search for his birth parents. He discovered his biological father, Alfred Catholique, living in the tiny community of Lutsel K’e on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Canada’s pristine Northwest Territories. Warmly welcomed by all the Catholique family, John decided to move to the community in order to rediscover his cultural identity. John Rombough’s painting style has since changed to reflect the harmony of the Dene people and the natural world. His distinctive modern Aboriginal designs also encompass his own personal visions and strong connection with nature. Paintings that communicate to all nations, through visual interpretation, brilliantly mixed colours are transferred onto canvas, sending out a message of compassion and respect. As John works toward creating original pieces, Ceremonial Drum Songs flow through his thoughts, songs that represent Dene teachings and spiritual way of life. Sacred teachings passed down from ancestors through his visions inspire John to live a healthy creative lifestyle. Honouring the ancestors teachings; respect self, respect people and respect the land. John Rombough is recognized as a role model throughout the NWT and takes his role very seriously. His paintings are instrumental in conveying a message to the youth, a message of encouragement, leadership, strength, willpower and determination. New cultural discoveries continue to provide him with an inexhaustible reservoir of ideas to put to canvas. John’s paintings are increasingly well received by collectors and corporations alike.
Hovak Johnston is Inuk woman raised on the land in the Kitikmeot Region in Nunavut until she was sent away to school. She uses her Inuinnaqtun name Hovak given to her at birth as a way to carry her traditions and honour her past relatives after whom she was named. Hovak has a deep connection to her culture and traditional arts and skills that were passed down to her. Now living in Yellowknife. Hovak does some type of traditional artwork everyday; from sewing, soapstone carving, jewelry making, tanning hides, fleshing and preparing skins to her latest endeavours: traditional tattooing. Hovak is also a performing artist who is well respected for the pride she puts into her work, culture and traditions. She also teaches school students part time on how to make traditional items. Hovak’s most recent passion is spearheading a revival of the traditional Inuit tattoo’s by learning the modern and ancient methods of tattooing.
Melaw Nakehk’o is a distinguished artist and community leader. Born in Canada’s North, raised in the community of Liidlii Kue, Melaw comes from a long line of tribal leaders of the Dehcho Dene & Denesuline people. Melaw attended the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she earned a degree in 2 dimensional arts. Melaw is also recognized for her exemplary work in revitalizing traditional Indigenous artistic practices, with contemporary applications of ancient techniques. Her work in reviving and teaching moosehide tanning techniques has initiated a resurgence of the practice and shaped a broader community building movement within Canada. She is a Founding Member of Dene Nahjo, and is a regular instructor at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a land-based university program. Melaw has three sons and lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
Tania Larsson is of Gwich’in and Swedish descent and was born and raised in France. At the age of fifteen, she moved to Canada with her family with the goal of reconnecting to her culture and her land. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in digital arts and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Tania is a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a non-profit organization that focuses on cultural revitalization projects. She constantly seeks out opportunities to learn traditional practices such as tanning hides on the land, making tools and sewing. Combining her traditional skills and contemporary arts education, she strives to create pieces that are inspired by her culture and delivered using digital technologies.