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Mi’kmaq artists may soon have access to the authenticity logo

Mi’kmaq artists may soon have access to the authenticity logo

Mi’kmaq artists may soon have an option that some believe will add value to their work and help them reach a wider audience, just in time for the upcoming tourist season.

The Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative, based at the Millbrook First Nation in central Nova Scotia, is developing a logo or mark of authenticity for cultural products, with the goal of getting it ready for next April.

This is part of a larger strategy on cultural tourism developed by the organization, also known as KMKNO.

“The Chiefs really wanted to focus on cultural tourism and really look for ways to capitalize on cultural tourism so that we can improve our social and economic conditions for the Mi’kmaq here in Nova Scotia,” said Shannon Monk. , responsible for cultural tourism of the organization. Project Manager.

“Tourism is such an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the interest of visitors who come to Nova Scotia.

Monk started a year ago consulting with elders in the community to develop guidelines on what should be shared with tourists. The organization is now holding sessions with the wider community to gain a deeper perspective.

Shannon Monk is part of the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative. (Robert Guertin / CBC)

Early comments indicated that some public experiences such as mawiomi, or powwow, can and should be shared, while some personal and sacred experiences, such as baptismal ceremonies, should not be.

Feedback was positive about sharing products like Nova Scotia seafood, which Monk says is the traditional food of the Mi’kmaq.

Handicrafts such as jewelry or paintings could also provide a good income for artists and entrepreneurs, but it is important that the items are authentic.

Extensive topic of discussion

Monk said authenticity is a huge topic of discussion in Indigenous communities right now. That is why the first step in the strategy was to develop the brand of authenticity for craftsmanship.

“Unanimously people think that to be genuine it has to come, it has to be controlled, it has to be developed by the Mi’kmaq. This is the key element, ”she said. “It cannot be genuine if it is not from the Mi’kmaw people.”

One artist who has said she would be open to using a mark of authenticity is Mi’kmaq painter Loretta Gould, who has been in charge of commissions lately.

“I have four at the moment that are lined up,” she said. “It doesn’t even include the book I’m working on.”

There has even been an interest in using his work for a video game.

Mi’kmaq artist Loretta Gould says one of her favorite paintings is her work entitled Seal Hunter. A detail is shown here. (Loretta Gould)

Gould has been a self-taught professional painter from the We’koqma’q First Nation for nine years, and prior to that, she specialized in fine art quilts.

During a time when his sewing machine broke and was sent back for repair, his family and friends urged Gould to try out the paints his daughter was using.

She has never looked back and clients keep coming for her paintings and prints.

“There are a lot of people on Facebook, Instagram, email,” she said. “They are all finished.”

“The farthest I sent a painting – about two years ago, I think it was – was Egypt. It took him three months to receive it from me.”

Gould said she thinks her clients would likely appreciate a way to know the art is rightfully hers, as she’s encountered fakes twice.

His images were taken, put on a cover and sold. A friend warned her, but there was little she could do because the vendors were in another country.

“I’m flattered that someone liked my artwork, but that’s also a problem,” she said. “Not just for me, but for other artists as well. I think once you have these images in your head, you release them for people to react, not to steal them. It’s difficult.”

How artists would apply to use the upcoming logo or certification has yet to be defined. It is not yet clear what the logo would look like or if there would be a cost to use it.

Monk is an Aboriginal woman of Mi’kmaq, Oji-Cree and Celtic descent. She said research has shown that there is great international interest in indigenous cultures.

His organization believes that the interest can become profitable for the local population in a way that is not abusive.

Artists Loretta Gould and Peter Steele worked on a mural honoring reconciliation in downtown Sydney. (Nelson MacDonald and Charles Paul for CBC)

“When we started doing community sessions, we didn’t necessarily have a lot of artists and artisans,” Monk said. “A lot of them would say, well, I’m not involved in cultural tourism, I’m just an artist.”

She encourages people to think broadly.

“Cultural tourism is an opportunity for all Mi’kmaq, because if you are involved in creating or making anything related to the language or culture that you are trying to monetize, then that is tourism. cultural.

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