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Aboriginal arts and crafts featured in holiday gift show

Thursday November 29, 2012
Rick Garrick/Wawatay News
Pic River artist Gary LeBouthillier plans to sell his art at the 11th Annual Aboriginal Fine Arts and Crafts Christmas Gift Show in Thunder Bay.

About 170 Aboriginal artisans are expected to exhibit their artwork at the 11th Annual Aboriginal Fine Arts and Crafts Christmas Gift Show in Thunder Bay.

“It’s always fascinating to see what First Nations work with and create from raw material,” said John Ferris, founder of the Aboriginal Artworks Group of Northern Ontario and organizer of the annual arts and crafts show. “These are indigenous artworks that are passed down from one generation to another since time immemorial. It’s unique; it’s probably the best work you can get from First Nations artisans. It’s not just artwork — it’s their culture.”

Ferris expects the annual arts and crafts show, scheduled for Dec. 4-8 at the Victoriaville Centre, to attract as many visitors as last year.

“The last few years it was very successful because we have a lot more people coming in and everybody is aware of what the show contains,” Ferris said. “People from all over Ontario come down here and display and sell their artwork. So that is what people are attracted to.”
Aboriginal paintings, birch bark baskets, jewelry, soap stone and wood carvings, First Nations regalia, moccasins, mukluks, tikanagans, moose and deer hides, fur and leather hats are among the artworks usually sold at the annual arts and crafts show.

Ferris said the artworks are made from a variety of materials, including bone, leather, beads and fur.

“We have quite a few paintings as well,” Ferris said. “We have Don Ningewance working with a different style of art in acrylic.”

Ferris also mentioned the artwork of Perry Perrault and Kevin Belmore.

“I’m always fascinated with (Perrault’s) work because he has so much detail in there, but also so much stories within it,” Ferris said. “(Belmore) does beautiful work and people recognize him and people come to see him as well too, just for his work.”

Ferris said the show features many artisans with their own styles of doing arts and crafts.
One new artist who is planning to attend this year’s arts and crafts show is a Pic River band member who grew up on the east coast, where his father originally grew up.

“I have many stories to tell,” said Gary LeBouthillier, who moved to northern Ontario about 20 years ago to learn more about his Anishinabek culture. “I express my culture through my paintings — this my language and this is what I love doing.”

LeBouthillier has been creating his artwork for the past 20 years and has sold some artwork to people from across the world.

“I like to express my colours in my dreams and I like to put them on paper or canvas,” LeBouthillier said. “Being urbanized, I like to go back to my first footsteps from a very young age where I would learn from the traditional ways.”

LeBouthillier grew up on a trapline in New Brunswick.

“The eagle for me is the messenger of our dreams towards the Creator and towards nature,” LeBouthillier said.

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