July 16th, 2024

Christmas Market showcases work of Indigenous artisans

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on November 24, 2022.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Iby Crosschild had on display a variety of creations including mocassins, medicine bags, necklaces and headbands at the Indigenous Artisans Christmas Market.

Lethbridge Public Library hosted its second Indigenous Artisans Christmas Market this past weekend.

Local Indigenous artisans, businesses and creators sold creations that have traditional significance and it was an opportunity for them to share their knowledge and culture with the public.

“And in hopes of letting people come in and support local entrepreneurs and hopefully to shop local,” said Tenaya Benson, library assistant for Indigenous Services.

Benson said they’ve always been around when asked if Indigenous artisans have grown over the last little while.

“It’s just been difficult to maybe find spaces to sell works and wears or not knowing where to buy them from,” said Benson. “So this was kind of our hope to create an inclusive space for Indigenous artists to sell their beautiful and unique creations.”

When it comes to a particular style for their products, Benson said it’s with whatever knowledge or ideas that they have.

“There’s a variety of different vendors here from selling stained glass art and Indigenous art styles to bead work to different jewellery – it’s all up to what they wanted to create and sell,” she said.

Leon Daychief was one of the vendors at the market and has been an artisan since he was a kid.

“I went to high school in Kelowna, basically what I did was I needed to make money because I was out of province,” said Daychief. “So I decided I needed to think of a way because I didn’t have a part-time job. So I started just thinking of stuff to do. I started with necklaces, simple necklaces that would help me, $10 per necklace, and it just blew up from there.”

Necklaces progressed into earrings and keepsake boxes and now he is in to making more necklaces and drums.

“I do my own clothing line, which is Urban Buffalo Wear,” said Daychief. “I’ve started to do the vinyl stuff and getting into more pressing stuff, so we can actually press clothing. Even better from dry fit clothes to cut-offs to dresses, sweaters, hats, touques, jackets.”

It was growing up with his grandparents that taught him to use certain things with the beads, making a bow and arrow from scratch with willow to name a few.

“Other than that, I look at it as a growing business and it’s still a growing business,” he said.

Daychief said if we can do this year round, it will be great for Lethbridge.

“It’ll bring us close-knit,” he said. “The reconciliation, to actually combine everybody together and we’ll have that understanding and try and fill that gap between natives and non-natives.”

There were 15 vendors at the market, and the featured artisans came from Lethbridge, Blood Tribe, Standoff and all over the area.

There were 15 vendors at the market.

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