Haisla artist Brad Starr has been travelling from Kitmat to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Christmas Market for 20 years.
“It’s incredible, and I go home happy. I am doing what I love,” Starr said. “I actually have a line of clothing and I do carvings that I bring with me. I do traditional designs.”
Starr said it is not just about selling his art. He said it is also an opportunity to share Indigenous culture, and storytelling, with other community members.
“It’s getting people to understand the struggles about where we came from,” he said. “The only way we’re going to survive is if we learn to work together in peace and harmony.”
The Christmas market has grown significantly since it began and this year is the biggest turnout yet with more than 80 diverse vendors.
“That’s who we are. We invite and welcome anybody into our community to share their gifts. That’s what it is — it’s to share each other’s gifts at each other’s tables,” Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Jen Thomas said. “You can find original crafts, handmade crafts, blankets, drums, food, and jewelry.”
That also includes crochet by Lisa George who has attended the fair all her life with her mother and now has her booth.
“I really enjoy it especially watching the little kids and watching their faces light up when they see the different creations that I’ve made,” she said.
Funds raised from the weekend-long event support Indigenous traditions.
“The proceeds from the tables that the vendors purchase all go towards our babies’ celebration, where we welcome all of the new babies into the community every year,” Chief Thomas said.
The market runs on Saturday and Sunday.