Indigenous artists were busy making connections and sales at the 10th annual Indigenous Arts & Crafts sale in Winnipeg on Saturday.

For Lana Harper, the holiday season means connecting with family — and getting crafty. 

“My mom would set up the whole house with crafts [at Christmas]. We’re crafty people,” Harper said.

The retired nurse from Fisher River Cree Nation was one of over a hundred makers at the sale held at Union Centre. The event is typically held at the Neeginan Centre on Higgins, but an issue with electricity forced them to move this year.

Harper set up a table with her brother-in-law and sister, featuring holiday decorations, baked goods and handmade drums.

“This showcases what our people are like … our love is put into all of what we do.”

The sale has grown from a couple dozen artists to 102 this year, organizer Jacques St. Goddard said.

Saturday’s event was a good chance for artists to access sales, promotion and networking opportunities, said St. Goddard, although inflation has increased the overall costs of materials.

“Leather has gone up, fur has gone up — paint, beadwork.”

Person smiling with display tables in background.
Organizer Jacques St. Goddard says that artists are trying to offer fair prices despite inflation driving up the costs of materials. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

But artists are trying to keep their crafts at a fair price, he says, and their customers still beat wholesale markups.

“It is a big deal for someone to come and purchase from the artist,” said St. Goddard. “They know it’s made right here and not imported.”

Brittany Grisdale, a community advocate who lives in Winnipeg, says she buys all of her materials locally to keep dollars in the community.

The artist, who has ties to Brokenhead and Sagkeeng First Nations, sold “Indigenized” home decor at her table, including doormats featuring phrases like biindigen, which means “enter” in Anishinaabemowin, and awas, a saying which means “go away” in Ininimowin.

“I saw the market and how saturated it was for other stuff, like beadwork and ribbon skirts,” said Grisdale. “I wanted to do something that blended both of my passions.”

Two women hold up doormats.
Some of the home decor that Grisdale sells includes doormats featuring phrases in Indigenous languages. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Grisdale says she sees her art as a way to beautify homes while carrying an important message.

“It was about creating awareness — advocating, but also making it pretty and having some Indigenous inclusivity in the home.”

St. Goddard says the event was “a win all across the board” for artists, who were able to showcase and grow as a community.

“Some artists, as soon as the show’s over, they’re like, ‘Sign me up for next year!'”

Indigenous crafts sale in Winnipeg

Indigenous artists were busy making connections and sales at the 10th annual Indigenous Arts & Crafts sale in Winnipeg on Saturday.


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