Amanda Latreille (left) and Anabelle Latreille (right) sold jewelry, candles, seal skin and fox fur at their booth. Photo credit: Justin Hancock-Lefebour

When Elise Campeau suffered a serious injury a few years ago, she needed to find something to do while she recovered. She decided to revisit a passion that she had when she was younger: painting.

Campeau, who is Mohawk from Akwesasne, joined other Indigenous vendors and creators in the Student Commons on March 31 and sold paintings and prints at her booth.

“I just like expressing my vision of different things, and just want to share them,” Campeau said.

The Mamidosewin Centre and Students’ Association invited Campeau and the other vendors to share their work with students, staff, alumni and community members of the college. These vendors sold crafts, jewelry, blankets, furs and art.

Anabelle Latreille, a vendor from Iqaluit, sold jewelry, candles, seal skin and fox fur. Latreille views her craft as a great way to heal due to the fact that it is traditional in her culture.

“Making jewelry and doing anything connecting to our culture is super healing to us,” Latreille said. “When other people buy it, it makes us feel 10 times better, which is why we sell our jewelry.”

Latreille has some encouraging words for aspiring Indigenous vendors.

“Your talents are great, and your ideas are great,” Latreille said. “Just keep creating and thinking there’s always a market. Everybody likes different things. Don’t feel like you’re not going to belong.”

Taliah Lyons, a founding member of Youth4Youth Canada, a group created and led by female Indigenous youth, wanted to raise money by selling sweets.

“We’re trying to raise money to support our other projects so we can bring members of our community together,” Lyons said. “Sometimes fundraise to send things to our communities.”

Cassandra Tolley, who is Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi and is now based in Maniwaki, is the founder of Cass’s Native Beadwork. At the event she hoped to meet new people, get her name out there and get recognized. She sold a large assortment of items at her booth.

“I have earrings, medicine pouches, bolo ties, dreamcatchers, blankets, smudge feathers,” Tolley said.

Tolley’s mother taught her how to bead when she was young and her talent became practical. “I started beading and just started generating a lot of money, so I just kept going after,” Tolley said.

Other types of creators were at the event too.

Jenna Spagnoli, a marketing strategist, hoped to spread the word about the newly opened NAC Indigenous Theatre.

“Indigenous Theatre started just actually before the pandemic,” she said. “And the first inaugural season was interrupted by the pandemic, so this year is our first full season. Compared to the rest of the NAC, we’re a newer department.”

What is Spagnoli hoping to get out of this fair?

“Ideally, to sell some tickets or spread awareness for our upcoming shows, but also to let people know about the NAC Indigenous Theatre,” she said. “We have some programming for national Indigenous history month. We’re just here to represent Indigenous Theatre, let people know about our programming.”