Winnipeg conference showcases Nunavut designers, businesses
“Over the three-day span, artists posted over $35,000 worth of sales”
Coral Harbour designer Adina Tarralik Duffy had a feeling that her onesie jumper covered in pictures of Klik—a canned process ham familiar to many Nunavummiut—would be a success.
The “premium pork onesie” recently premiered at the Northern Perspectives Conference’s opening night fashion show Feb. 1 in Winnipeg, Man.
But still, Duffy, who designs clothes and jewelry through her company, Ugly Fish, felt nervous.
“Unleashing a Klik onesie on the world is not without a little anxiety,” she told Nunatsiaq News Feb. 6 from her home on Southampton Island.
But the onesie turned out to be a big hit, as did Duffy’s other designs that feature everyday items from her childhood—like her Pilot Biscuit leggings.
“It’s always surprising to see who takes to a design. And it’s a great feeling when people want what you create. You can never tell who’s going to want a ridiculous onesie.”
The conference, put on by the Nunavut Arts and Craft Association, the Baffin Chamber of Commerce and the Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce, ran from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
And the event gave featured artists and businesses from both the Baffin and Kivalliq regions a chance to connect with and expand their market, Duffy said.
“I thought, well, this is stupendous! They get it. When you find your audience or your market, it’s exciting and fun and gratifying,” she said.
It’s this kind of opportunity for Nunavut businesses, especially in the cultural sector, that organizers of the event hoped for, Justin Ford told Nunatsiaq News Feb. 7.
“Over the three-day span, artists posted over $35,000 worth of sales. And we’re expecting that to increase because of other orders and connections artists made with organizations and companies during the event,” said Ford, the interim executive director of NACA.
The arts organization put on the opening-night fashion show, which included nearly 30 models who walked a 700-foot walkway through WAG galleries sporting clothes and jewelry designed by six Nunavut artists.
“A lot of people really enjoyed the fact that they were watching modern Inuit fashion designs going through these galleries that had old traditional pieces of Inuit artwork and sculptures, with Inuit and non-Inuit fine art,” Ford said.
In addition to the fashion show, a number of Nunavut musicians also performed at the three-day event while wearing modern Inuit designs.
And that gave the audience an opportunity to make an even deeper connection with what Nunavut artists have to offer, said Ford.
“If you see a throat singing performance where the singers are wearing a beautiful contemporary Inuit parka, for example, that brings more meaning to the performance and the parka.”
But the conference was also about developing business relationships between the Baffin and Kivalliq regions and between Nunavut and Manitoba, said Chris West, the executive director of the BRCC.
“There’s already millions and millions of dollars in business between the Kivalliq and Manitoba. So we were looking for ways to expand on that, and to extend that into the Baffin region,” West said.
In the final tally, West said the event was even better attended than anticipated: About 125 delegates and 30 tradeshow booth operators participated with 150 people attending the opening meet and greet.
Keynote speakers included Nunavut government ministers Monica Ell-Kanayuk and George Kuksuk, as well as Manitoba MLA Wab Kinew.
Some artists, speakers and sponsors from the Kivalliq region couldn’t make the event because of bad weather and out of respect for the recent tragedy that claimed the lives of three men.
The trade show paid tribute to those victims by auctioning off a couple of airline tickets donated by Calm Air and sending the proceeds to the families of the victims, said West.
“It was pretty special because the tickets sold for $3,000, and then there were three or four other organizations who came up afterwards and donated $500 each.”
The Northern Perspectives Conference will be held again in 2019—in alternating years with the Northern Lights Tradeshow in Ottawa, to be held next in 2018.