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Shirley Bonnetrouge, the program co-ordinator at Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre, displays one of the five winning entries in a traditional arts competition. The painting was created by Larone Lafferty.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Five artists are the winners in a traditional arts competition at Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.

Each of them won $1,000 in a draw on Dec. 18, after their works were accepted for the contest.

The winners (and their artwork) included Ann Firth-Jones (a necklace), Larone Lafferty (a painting), Elsie Canadien (moose hair tufting earrings), Barb Lowe (a tote bag) and Aimee Tambour (beaded earrings).

Twelve artists participated in the competition called the Traditional B.E.A.R. Art & Craft Contest.

Artwork and crafts were accepted from Hay River, K’atlodeeche First Nation, West Point First Nation and Enterprise.

Shirley Bonnetrouge, the program co-ordinator at Soaring Eagle, was very happy with the contest and the quality of the artwork.

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Bonnetrouge noted the competition was designed to help artists in this time of Covid-19, since they normally rely on sales at various events, such as festivals, conferences and workshops.

“But that’s no longer available,” she said. “So I think this contest is great.”

The competition had a limit of 20 entries, but just 12 artists participated. Each of the 12 received $100 for their work and their names were entered into the draw for the $1,000 prizes.

The contest was presented with funding from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI).

Bonnetrouge explained that the funding was originally for a fiddling and jigging competition, which was not held because of Covid-19.

“So we had to cancel the fiddling and jigging, but we were already awarded $7,000,” she said, noting that the friendship centre was planning to give the money back to the funding agency.

However, the funder asked the friendship centre to propose another way to support artists based on other ITI programs, which it found in the Hide and Fur Program that supports NWT artisans.

“It took a couple of tries for staff to sit down and figure out how we could put the money back into the artists’ hands,” said Bonnetrouge. “So we thought, let’s do it with this contest.”

With the five $1,000 prizes and $1,200 distributed to all entries, there is still $800 left from the original funding. Depending on what ITI wishes, that remaining money may be returned to the department or carried over to some other program.

The artwork entered in the Traditional B.E.A.R. Art & Craft Contest will be placed on sale at the friendship centre to help fund its programming for youth.

The B.E.A.R. in the contest name comes from the B.E.A.R Store at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre where there is a collection of traditional art on sale. B.E.A.R. stands for Beneficial Exploration of Ambition and Resourcefulness.

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