Years ago, Carolyn Kendall wanted a place that would be a showcase for local First Nations artisans. Where native artwork, carvings, arts and crafts, books, beaded items, jewelry, clothing and edible delights could be found under one roof.
Kumbayaz Native Arts is that place.
Kendall has moved her store three times, to three new locations but 421 Dominion Street, where she moved last year feels like home.
She is proud to display the creative talents of over 100 local and area First Nations people. Prouder still, she says, that so many people take an interest in what she has on her shelves, displayed in windows and covering the walls.
Visitors often want to know how and where the item is made, what it is made from and its cultural history, she says. That is an education in itself.
Kendall shows off a beautifully beaded hand-crafted bag and moose hide infant carrier.
“My bead worker friend from Fort St. James who is Carrier designed the bag. She does just beautiful work,” says Kendall.
“Most of the people who shop here are Aboriginal people looking for gifts for special occasions like potlatches, weddings, graduations. We have lots of “keep the feet warm” gifts, she says, nodding in agreement with a customer’s suggestion. The store also stocks native prints, cards, candles, books, dream catchers, carvings, hand crafted and beaded jewelry, traditionally dressed dolls, hand sewn clothes, warm blankets and even ornately decorated wildlife horns. There is a wide assortment of feathers, beads and other items for crafters to make their own original designs and handmade ornaments. Most larger items are on consignment. As well, there is locally produced food delicacies that appeal to every palate: Smoked salmon, Saskatoon berries, teas.
One of her biggest sellers however is music by First Nations artists, says Kendall.
“This time of year people really want to buy music of artists like country rock artist Bear Paws, he’s Cree. Or guitarist George Leach, or Slang Blossom who does hip hop. The young First Nations kids really like him. Doris Munger from Burns Lake sings traditional music. We sell a lot of CDs here,” she said.
Tourists and visitors to our city like to buy gifts like traditional beaded mocassins and the store carries lots of sizes, beaded in many designs and colors. B.C. Jade is also popular.
“Our artisans are from the Chilcotin, Carrier, Nootka and Nazko. We even have things from the natives of Siberia and Guatemala. For more information about Kumbayaz Native Arts phone 614-8307 or visit the store at 421 Dominion Street.