Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this government needs to do more to help the artisans of the NWT in accessing traditional tanned hides.
Mr. Speaker, over the last several years I have met with numerous artisans who have voiced the same concern - that concern is the lack of access to traditional tanned hides which they require to make a variety of products. Many of us here are familiar with these products which include earrings, slippers, crow boots, gauntlets, mitts, vests, jackets, gun cases, and more.
Mr. Speaker, when those who purchase Indigenous fashions that require hide and fur, they want the appearance; they want the touch; and, most importantly, they want the smell of the traditional tanned hide. What people may not know is the amount of work that goes into the traditional tanning of hides, such as moose and caribou.
Mr. Speaker, I have had a number of artisans explain to me the process of traditional tanning to me. There are up to 13 steps that include skinning, soaking, stretching, fleshing, scraping, thinning, braining, wringing, drying, softening, and smoking. This process can take up to 3 weeks consisting of many hours to complete.
Mr. Speaker, tanning requires access to raw material, special tools, patience, and a lot of hard work. The practice of tanning hides is a long tradition with Indigenous people. Mr. Speaker, this skill may be in jeopardy of being lost if this government, and Indigenous governments, do not provide the support to those few who have retained the knowledge that was passed on to them and who now want to pass it on to others.
Mr. Speaker, we have a Hide and Fur Program in place which was, in part, meant to support the need for artisans to have access to raw materials, such as hides and furs, at affordable prices. Either it does not have sufficient product, is not well advertised or, may be unaffordable for artisans. We need to do more in this area.
Mr. Speaker, I would challenge the Minister of Responsible for ITI, the Minister of Responsible for ECE, and the Minister responsible for ENR to collaborate and develop a standalone program that would provide financial compensation to those that are tanning their own hides and to those harvesters who bring the hides out after a successful harvest.
I will have questions for one of the foregoing Ministers at the appropriate time. Thank you.