Artisan market provides art, crafts and connection
By Cory Schachtel | November 16, 2022
Every year, Métis people pay tribute to the life and sacrifice of Louis Riel with a commemorative ceremony on November 16, the date of his execution. It’s a day of somber reflection for Métis people, and it’s the anchor date for Métis Week, declared by the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), which further commemorates people who work for their rights and recognition as a distinct nation.
“Quite often Métis people are kind of forgotten, even in some of the larger Indigenous movements. That’s not the fault of those movement’s organizers. It just, we are different, and sometimes people don’t understand what it means to be Métis, and who the Métis people are. So it was really important to create something that was Métis specific.” So says Krista Leddy. She is a Métis artist who’s helped start a collective that exposes Métis artists and performers to both mainstream and Métis-specific audiences, helps those artists make a living off their work, and ensures their traditions and techniques reach the next generation. She found eager partners in the (MNA) and Kingsway Mall, which will host the first Métis Artisan Market in its HyperPop space.
The market will feature vendors, a photo exhibit, an art show, and a free fish-scale magnet art class — far too many options for Leddy to pick her favourite. “I’m really excited about the diversity of the vendors we have. Some beaders and makers are really well known, especially in the Métis world. We have some people bringing in natural products, like candles and soaps, we have somebody who makes stuffed animals, and I’m really excited that New Dawn, Métis Women’s Society will have a table and they’ll be talking about their book, which was released last year.”
Leddy also helped start the collective because the Métis nation is currently voting on a constitution to recognize its ability to self-govern (voting ends Nov. 30). There will be information on the constitution, and on ways for Métis people to vote, at the market. “My kookum was a respected elder with the MNA, and my mooshoom, he and his friend started the [Alberta Native] Friendship Centre here in Edmonton. They’ve always fought for Métis rights, so for myself…this is such an important action, because this is something that our ancestors have fought for — the idea of self governance and being able to determine our own future. And the market is another way for people to connect with Métis culture.”