Celebrating Indigenous History Month
Craft Alliance Atlantic Association is a non-profit trade association supporting small craft businesses across the Atlantic region. We recognize the incredible importance of Indigenous traditional and contemporary craft and acknowledge its influence on today’s craft traditions.
To support and hold space for the work of Indigenous craftspeople across our region, we are updating our home page to feature some of their work. The following are 8 artisans from across our region working in craft and/or wholesale whose work is displayed on our home page. Links for further discovery of Indigenous arts and craft are included at the bottom of the page.
Justin Sappier, a Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy)-Wolastoqey (Maliseet) woodcarver who lives in Island View, New Brunswick, is using his aboriginal arts and crafts, particularly woodcarving, to educate the world on Wabanaki (East Coast) aboriginal culture. Born in Perth Andover, Wabanaki Territory, Justin carves to empower the local native culture and to bring it pride and proper recognition.
Shane Perley-Dutcher is a Wolastoq (Maliseet) mixed media artist from the Neqotkuk Wolasqiyik (Tobique First Nation) in New Brunswick. He trained at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, earning a Diploma in Natives Art Studies and Jewellery Manufacturing graduating with honours and distinctions. Shane draws his design inspiration from Wolastoqiyik Traditional knowledge and contemporary aesthetics.
Aduksis Jewellery Designs was created in 2006 and continues to grow to this day. Shane Perley-Dutcher continues to challenge himself as a mixed media artist and jewellery designer, with custom pieces found in private and public collections across Canada and internationally.
AJD designs use natural materials such as birch, cedar, spruce, ash, copper, silver, gold and platinum to create unique lines of jewellery and one of a kind sculptural pieces. Shane gathers his traditional materials for his art because it maintains his connection to the land. Building on this relationship will always be part of his creative journey.
See more of Shane’s work: https://www.aduksisjewellerydesigns.com/
Based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Jason Holley studied at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the College of the North Atlantic and the Craft Council Clay Studio in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His chainmail ceramic sculptures were exhibited in the gallery at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax and The Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He was awarded The People’s Choice Award at The Artist Project, 2012 in Toronto. Most recently, he has been using virtual reality programs to digitally hand-build his ceramic mugs, before having them 3D-printed at a Maker space on campus at Memorial University.
View and purchase Jason’s work from https://cupstudios.net/
Megan Samms is a weaver, regenerative farmer and natural dyer in Katalisk Sipu (Cordroy Valley, Newfoundland). With Live Textiles, Megan produces handwoven cloth as well as weaving and knitting drafts. Her expertise and commitment to raising the technical bar for handweaving in Canada has made her a juried member of the Newfoundland Craft Council and a provincial representative in the Guild of Canadian Weavers.
“My intent is to integrate usefulness, beauty, tradition and a sense of shelter in a living cloth; craft that is meant to bring comfort and joy through the generations of the families they belong to, changing along the way, maturing and developing a life of their own. Live textiles.”
Melissa is a Mi’kmaw woman from Abegweit First Nation, located on Epekwitk (PEI.) Growing up, Melissa was immersed in cultural teachings and was surrounded by a family of basket makers. She began her artistic expression at a young age,making regalia and beadwork, and is skilled in both traditional and contemporary styles. Melissa’s exposure to other Mi’kmaq artforms led her to quillwork, a traditional skill in which the ancestors of her maternal grandfather excelled.
Melissa was accepted into an apprenticeship with Mi’kmaq Quill Art in 2015. Her training was grounded in the traditional insertion technique and utilized the study of both cultural teachings and formal material culture resources available through historic publications and museums. Quillwork is created by inserting porcupine quills, either dyed or kept natural, into birchbark. The pieces are then edged with quills, sweetgrass or spruce root.
Over the course of her apprenticeship, Melissa learned techniques and protocols related to harvesting raw materials, as well as the complex geometry of traditional design work. Upon completion of her apprenticeship, Melissa has been integral in establishing a community of skilled quill workers. This community of quillers seeks to expand awareness of the art form and recently began working on collaborative projects.
Melissa launched her professional career as a Mi’kmaq quill artist with her first solo exhibit at Receiver Coffee presented by This Town is Small in Charlottetown in 2019. She is heavily influenced by 20th century Mi’kmaw quillwork and she is supported in her harvesting efforts by her family. Melissa is proud to be passing the art on to her two sons and the broader community.
View online: http://melissapeterpaul.com/gallery
Nancy Oakley is a First Nations artist of Mi’kmaq and Wampanoag descent. She was raised in Massachusetts where her father was the grand chief of Wampanoag Nation. She decided to move to her mother’s reserve in Eskasoni First Nation to better understand her heritage. She has been involved in art all her life, attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico and NSCAD. Nancy has had her own craft business for the last 20 years, focusing on pottery and beadwork. Her pottery is stone polished and smoke fired and incorporates sweetgrass used for purification in First Nation cultures. Nancy lives and works in Eskasoni.
View more of Nancy’s work at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design
Discover more Indigenous artisans
The following organizations are supporting Indigenous craft through a variety of methods. Visit their pages to learn more.
Nujintuisga’tijig E’pijig is a pilot initiative from Women in Business New Brunswick to give an opportunity to artisans from New Brunswick to sell their craft online, while also supporting them with business development opportunities to help them grow their craft business.
Learn more: https://www.nujintuisgatijig.ca/index
JEDI (Joint Economic Development Initiative)
The Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) is an Indigenous organization dedicated to supporting Indigenous participation in New Brunswick’s economy. JEDI began in 1995 as a tripartite partnership between Indigenous communities in New Brunswick, the Government of Canada, and the Government of New Brunswick. In 2009, JEDI was incorporated as an independent, non-profit organization and over the years JEDI has grown into an Indigenous organization focused on working closely with its partners from Indigenous communities, organizations, government, and the private sector to foster Indigenous economic development in New Brunswick.
Learn more: https://jedinb.ca/
Visit JEDI’s Indigenous Art Accelerator Marketplace: https://www.indigeshop.ca/
Mawi’Art: Wabanaki Artist Collective (MAWAC) was established in 2013 to serve as an organizational means by which Indigenous artists in Atlantic Canada could be more fully supported in developing and selling their work. In essence, we have served as a management company for our member artists. In the intervening years, we have built an online presence, created a process for vetting artists, created a roster of over 300 artists in NB and elsewhere in the Atlantic provinces, established and trained a Board of Directors, and are increasingly recognized regionally and nationally as a solid organizational model for promoting Indigenous art and artists.
Learn more: https://www.mawiart.org/
Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network (NSITEN)
The NSITEN is a volunteer based, not for profit cultural tourism organization that develops specific project based initiatives aimed at growing the capacity of individuals, businesses and community lead tourism initiatives.
NSITEN is building an Arts & Crafts Cooperative through which it will be offering a free service to all artists, artisans, craft makers and traditional knowledge keepers as a way to grow opportunities but also to start organizing a collective database of individuals & businesses that would like to have more support services that would benefit their future goals and aspirations.
Learn more: https://www.nsiten.com/arts-crafts-coop/
Images are courtesy of the artists; contact each artist individually for sales inquiries. CARFAC fees are provided to the artists for use of works displayed.