By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – Garden River’s Michael Nolan brought a range of 3Nolans gear to sell at the 16th Annual Aboriginal Christmas Fine Arts and Crafts Gift Show and Sale in Thunder Bay.
“My uncle Ted Nolan and his sons came out with a clothing line a couple of years ago called 3Nolans,” Nolan says. “So I currently have hats, hoodies and t-shirts that are from their clothing company. They’ve been selling good all over (where) I go. People seem to like that.”
Nolan also had a variety of artwork, tobacco, clothing, dreamcatchers and beadwork for sale during the Gift Show and Sale, which was held from Dec. 12-16 at the Victoriaville Centre.
“This is my third year,” Nolan says. “It’s just wonderful. I love coming up here.”
Nolan says he enjoys talking with the other artists and crafters at the Gift Show and Sale.
“I talk to a lot of people,” Nolan says. “It’s just fun meeting new people.”
John Ferris, organizer of the Gift Show and Sale, says this was the largest gathering to date with 135 tables of arts and crafts for sale.
“It’s growing every year,” Ferris says, noting there are people from Kanehsatà:ke, near Montreal, Toronto, London, Sudbury, Wiikwemkoong, Fort Frances and the north in attendance at the Gift Show and Sale. “This is the largest Aboriginal art (gathering) in Ontario. That’s why people come here from all over.”
Paul Francis, an artisan originally from Wiikwemkoong who now lives in Thunder Bay, says he has been at all 16 of the Gift Show and Sale gatherings.
“I think when we first started out there was maybe 15 or 20 of us here,” Francis says. “He told me today we’re over 100 here today. There’s lots of competition, but that’s good. People get a very good selection of whatever they’re looking for.”
Francis says he usually tries to develop new ideas for each year.
“This year I came up with making dreamcatcher wall plaques,” Francis says. “I have some regular dreamcatchers, but with my willow I do mobile dreamcatchers. I have four two-inch dreamcatchers attached to them — they represent the four directions. I have seven feathers for the seven teachings, and right in the middle I always put an eagle feather.”
Ange Aimee Wawia, an artisan from the Lake Nipigon area, says she has been selling arts and crafts for about 30 years.
“I first started at the Prince Arthur Hotel,” Wawia says. “At that time there was Roy Thomas and Ed Wesley — they were the ones that were doing a lot of the organizing.”
Wawia says the artists and crafters are happy to continue with their traditional skills and to learn from and share with each other.
“This year I made moose hide tree decorations,” Wawia says. “I hand paint them with feathers and I put a protective coating over them. I also have four direction headbands, where the four colours are sewn right on to the headband to remind ourselves of the teachings.”
Jeanette Posine, a Pays Plat citizen who is known as the Bannock Lady, cooked up some of her fry bread bannock burgers and Indian tacos for sale at the Gift Show and Sale.
“We’ve been really busy selling out every day,” Posine says, noting that she makes about 100 bannock burgers per day. “I enjoy this fair and it gives me a chance to go shopping.”
Posine usually sells her food at Chippewa Park, which is located on Lake Superior.