By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – A Coast Salish wood carver from British Columbia was one of the vendors at this year’s Chapman’s Gas Bar Christmas Craft Sale in Fort William First Nation.
“I’ve been at this for almost 40 years now,” says George Price, a carver and teacher from Stó:lō Nation in B.C. who is married to an Anishinabe women from the Thunder Bay area. “I carved a 49-foot totem pole in 2000. And we carved a big piece for Bill Gates. He helped a school I was teaching at in Washington (state) — he helped us raise $5 million to buy an old growth forest.”
Price says he wants to share his wood carving skills with the community in Fort William.
“And teach them how to use the tools but not influence the design,” Price says. “(There’s) a variety of tools, and basically they are all handmade. If you need a specific knife for a specific job, then I was told to go and build that knife. And then I’ll always have it and always use it.”
Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek’s Judy Baraniuk had a variety of beaded work for sale, including beaded guitar straps, beaded dreamcatcher chimes and beaded regalia items.
“I do the beadwork for the regalia, the harnesses and that, for Pow Wow dancers,” Baraniuk says, noting she began doing beadwork about 40 years ago after she quit drinking. “This is my therapy. And then you feel proud about what you made.”
Chippewas of the Thames’ Gloria Hendrick-Laliberte had a variety of home baked goods for sale, including banana bread, pumpkin loaf and chocolate chip cookies.
“People are too busy to bake, so I made some for them to take home,” Hendrick-Laliberte says, noting the atmosphere was “very comfortable” at the craft sale. “It gives you a sense of community. I live away from my First Nation, so coming to something like this is great all the time, but especially at Christmas.”
Christian Chapman, one of the organizers of the craft sale, says this was the “third or fourth year” that the craft sale was held.
“We have a small sale but it is pretty good so far,” Chapman says. “There’s crafters, we’ve got people baking, we’ve got fine arts and crafts. It’s a mixed bag of stuff.”
Chapman says the craft sale is “completely free” for the crafters.
“We can do it for free and this is the way we are always going to do it,” Chapman says. “The vendors like it because it is a pretty intimate sale and we feed everybody and we take care of the people that we have here. And City Road is a pretty busy street, so we get a lot of people coming in.”
Lac Seul’s Patricia Ningewance-Nadeau had a selection of Anishinabemowin books, including Pocket Ojibway, Pocket Cree and Pocket Oji-Cree, for sale on the first day of the craft sale.
“I did very well,” Ningewance-Nadeau says. “My product is different from the others — mine is language, mine is something that people want to relearn their language. So I sold a lot of these Pocket Oji-Cree to young people. I like it when the young people buy them because I know they are going to use