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Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs

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  • Alex Coulstring
  • December 07, 2020 02:11:49 PM
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A Little About Us

Our online store showcase seal products made by Indigenous crafters from the circumpolar North and bring more awareness to seal products that come from traditional sources and values.

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  • Our online store showcase seal products made by Indigenous crafters from the circumpolar North and bring more awareness to seal products that come from traditional sources and values.
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    Sealing, a Blue Activity?

    Sealing, a Blue Activity?   According to the World Bank, the “Blue Economy” is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” Seal products are the perfect example of a Blue Activity.  In addition to provide food for local human consumption, sealing allows Northern Indigenous communities to take part in [...] The post Sealing, a Blue Activity? appeared first on...

    Sealing, a Blue Activity?

     

    According to the World Bank, the “Blue Economy” is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” Seal products are the perfect example of a Blue Activity.  In addition to provide food for local human consumption, sealing allows Northern Indigenous communities to take part in the global economy. Seal products also have a very low environmental footprint:

    • Little energy consumption for extraction: dog sledges, snow scooters and sealing boats
    • No production chain
    • Local transport
    • No habitat destruction
    • Selective extraction (and management) of species, size -& sex
    • Efficient and optimized resource: little waste

    The importance of Seals on the Economy

    The very existence of Canadian Inuit and Indigenous communities is grounded on their relationship with seals. The practice of hunting connects Inuit to the land which ensures sustainability, the preservation and building of ecological knowledge and conservation efforts.

    A recent study estimated the current harvesting economy in Nunavut is worth approximately $40 million annually. Sealing in is not just an industry, it is a lifestyle that helps keep Inuit close to their natural environment. An estimate of over 40,000 seals are harvested per year in Nunavut. The replacement food value of seal meat is worth approximately $5 million. Seal skin products are worth an additional $1 million to the arts and crafts sector. (1)

    In Canada’s north, where store-bought meat is expensive, a single ringed seal can provide the equivalent of $200 or more worth of meat to a family—and a much higher level of nutrition.

    The impact of the European Ban

    The primary market for Canadian seal products pre-ban was the EU.

    Top importers of Canadian seal products, 2001 up to Ban:

    • Denmark (importing 32,558 pelts);
    • Finland (importing 134,015 pelts); and
    • Germany (importing 159,765 pelts).

    The European Union banned the importation of seal products in 2009. The result was devastating, reducing the number of pelts sold by over 82%. The Ban has eroded confidence and interest in seal products within and outside the EU.

    Unfortunately, even with the EU Exemption for Indigenous Seal Products (2), there still exist a lot of confusion and apprehension from buyers that seal products will not be permitted into EU even with proper certification.

    Let’s shift the tide in 2021

    On December 3rd 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the Government of Canada’s plan to engage with the provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, industry, conservationists, and all Canadians to develop a Blue Economy Strategy, beginning early in the New Year. The strategy will outline a future vision for Canada’s ocean-related sectors and guide future government actions and investments toward the goal of a sustainable, ocean economy. (3)

    2021 is the year where we, Canadians, should shift the tide in favour of the Blue Economy by keeping it local and natural and supporting Indigenous Crafters by purchasing authentic seal products.

     

    SOURCES:

    1. https://www.gov.nu.ca/eia/documents/nunavut-economy)
    2. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/biodiversity/animal_welfare/seals/eu_seal_regime.htm
    3. https://www.canada.ca/en/fisheries-oceans/news/2020/12/canada-commits-to-growing-the-blue-economy-at-home-and-around-the-globe.html)

    The post Sealing, a Blue Activity? appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs.


    People of the Seal

    Canadian Inuit and other Indigenous communities have a deep sealing tradition. Seals have long provided a consistent source of densely nutritious meat. The pelts are used for clothing and shelter. Seal oil is consumed and used a source of fuel and light. The seal hunt was and is a cultural cornerstone for many residents of [...] The post People of the Seal appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts &...

    Canadian Inuit and other Indigenous communities have a deep sealing tradition. Seals have long provided a consistent source of densely nutritious meat. The pelts are used for clothing and shelter. Seal oil is consumed and used a source of fuel and light. The seal hunt was and is a cultural cornerstone for many residents of Northern Canada. In fact, the very existence of Inuit in the Arctic is grounded on their relationship with seals.

    It’s no wonder the term “People of the Seal” was coined.

    It is important to know that although many of the cultural and social traditions stretch back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, they are still important today. Not just as a nod to the past—but as a vital part of modern Northern life.

    Today, the practice of hunting ensures a continued connection to the land. With this connection comes ecological knowledge, a respect for the natural world, and a drive for conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

     

    Community and cultural benefits

    Traditionally, males take part in the seal hunt, and the women most often lead the extensive post-hunt work, preparing meat for food, and the pelt for a multitude of uses. Culture, language and tradition are shared between generations and throughout the community with these tasks.

    The current use of seal is very similar to the traditions of the past. As always, nearly all parts of the seal are consumed.  Seal meat is boiled, broiled, steamed, roasted, smoked, dried fermented, aged, raw-fresh, raw-frozen, and, more recently, fried.  The importance of seal meat cannot be understated: in Canada’s north, where food insecurity is a pressing issue and store-bought meat is expensive, a single seal can provide the equivalent of $200 or more worth of meat to a family—and a much higher level of nutrition.

    Seal oil was used as fuel in lamps (qulliq) for light, heat and cooking and for medicinal uses as skin cream, and as a natural source of vitamins C and D. It is a superior source of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids. Bones had and have many uses, from tool making to play pieces in traditional games. Pelts were processed and used clothing, shelter, kayaks and hunting tools (such as hunting bladders or floats, making rope, qammaq covers). The list goes on.

     

    Economic benefits for toda

    Importantly, value-added seal products are being created and sold, allowing hunters and their families to participate in the cash economy. Seal fur and seal leather are valuable materials used in traditional and contemporary clothing. Ground-breaking artisans, artists, and fashion designers are incorporating this sustainable material into their work, with stunning results.

    Seal oil is becoming a popular supplement nationally and internationally, for its easily digestible and effective suite of omega-3s.

    Revenue generated from seal hunting has been used by northern residents to purchase alternative food, shelter, hunting equipment and more to sustain families and communities.

     

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    A post shared by ᔨᓂᐅᓪ (@paunngak.crafts)

     

    The future of the People of the Seal

    Today’s seal hunt is carefully managed and regulated. Practices are humane and seal populations are healthy and growing. Many northern communities rely on seal products—and many households throughout Canada and beyond are embracing them too.

    The continuation of a sustainable seal harvest, with full use of the animal and the creation of products for sale on the market preserves and honours Indigenous cultures and their food heritage.

    Learn more about seals and seal products in our online shop.

     

    The post People of the Seal appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs.


    Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund’s Maybe Somewhere grows despite launching just before pandemic

    When Rankin Inlet’s Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund decided she was going to open her store selling Indigenous-made products at the beginning of 2020, she knew there would be challenges ahead. But not even she could have expected a global pandemic that would bring the local economy to a grinding halt. “It was the summer of 2019 [...] The post Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund’s Maybe Somewhere grows despite launching just before pandemic appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts &...

    When Rankin Inlet’s Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund decided she was going to open her store selling Indigenous-made products at the beginning of 2020, she knew there would be challenges ahead.

    But not even she could have expected a global pandemic that would bring the local economy to a grinding halt.

    It was the summer of 2019 when I got a business licence and started planning. I was working so it was hard to get working full time. In January I said it’s time to dive and, take a chance and if it doesn’t work out take it from there,” said Fredlund, owner of pop-up shop Maybe Somewhere.

    And then the pandemic hit and I ended up being home with four kids.”

    The mother of four has always had a love for the arts and has been involved in some form of practice throughout her life.

    Read more at https://nunavutnews.com/sponsored-article/inuujaq-leslie-fredlunds-maybe-somewhere-grows-despite-launching-just-before-pandemic

    Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund, owner of Maybe Somewhere, at her first ever pop-up shop in January right before COVID-19 shut down the territory. Fredlund has been doing her best to grow her business despite the challenges faced during the pandemic.
    photo courtesy of Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund

    News Article Courtesy of Nunavut News

    The post Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund’s Maybe Somewhere grows despite launching just before pandemic appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs.


    Pikulu Designs

    Julie Alivaktuk (Pikulu Designs) is a contemporary seamstress, working primarily in hand-made seal skin products. From Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Julie’s work weaves the beauty of her natural surroundings with modern design to create thoughtful and unique pieces. Working alongside her mother from a young age, Julie’s practice remains intricately rooted in family tradition and culture. A [...] The post Pikulu Designs appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts &...

    Julie Alivaktuk (Pikulu Designs) is a contemporary seamstress, working primarily in hand-made seal skin products. From Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Julie’s work weaves the beauty of her natural surroundings with modern design to create thoughtful and unique pieces. Working alongside her mother from a young age, Julie’s practice remains intricately rooted in family tradition and culture. A graduate of the Arctic College’s Fur Production and Design program, Julie recently participated in the Circumpolar Crafter’s Network in Norway and Scotland. Her travel and experiences with other Indigenous cultures around the world have allowed her to collaborate with other circumpolar artists and globally advocate for Inuit rights. After attending Nunavut Sivunksavut, Julie began to explore the affect of colonization in her work. In the future, she aspires to create pieces that pose questions and demand reflection.

    News Article Courtesy of IFW Toronto

    The post Pikulu Designs appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs.


    Concordia artist-in-residence builds a sealskin spacesuit

    When Jesse Tungilik was a child, his mother made him traditional caribou hunting clothes. While wearing the bulky, heavy handmade outfit, he often imagined that he was in a spacesuit. “That memory stuck with me when I heard about this opportunity here at Concordia, with its future-themed focus, and the two ideas met in the [...] The post Concordia artist-in-residence builds a sealskin spacesuit appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts &...

    When Jesse Tungilik was a child, his mother made him traditional caribou hunting clothes. While wearing the bulky, heavy handmade outfit, he often imagined that he was in a spacesuit. “That memory stuck with me when I heard about this opportunity here at Concordia, with its future-themed focus, and the two ideas met in the middle,” Tungilik says. Tungilik, an interdisciplinary artist who lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut, was invited to be an artist-in-residence at Concordia from February to May. The offer came from the Initiative for Indigenous Futures and the Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership — SSHRC partnerships to make artwork responding to the idea of Inuit futurisms. The residency received further support from the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology and the Faculty of Fine Arts as a Concordia in-residence appointment. Tungilik knew Heather Igloliorte, associate professor of art history and special advisor to the provost on Advancing Indigenous Knowledges, for a number of years.

    Jesse Tungilik: “Inuit are definitely capable of getting into these fields and succeeding.” | Images courtesy of the artist

    News Article Courtesy of Concordia University

     

     

    The post Concordia artist-in-residence builds a sealskin spacesuit appeared first on Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Designs.


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