Travis Frost, an Old Crow trapper. (Courtesy of Archbould Photography)

I’m Fur Real offers platform for artisans to sell their work

‘There’s nothing better than buying something from the person who made it’

Lisa Preto sells her furs all over the place, but she likes it best when locals buy them.

“Here, people are actually wearing them because they’re cold,” she says with a laugh.

Preto runs Minus 40 Furs in Haines Junction.

She started the business (selling fur ruffs, head bands, pompoms and more) years ago when her husband became interested in trapping and got a line near their hobby farm in Haines Junction.

“The prices of fur were so low at the auction we started keeping furs that we liked, wolverine and wolf, and I started sewing more things to get a bit more of that gas money back that we put into things,” she says.

Preto’s experience is typical of Yukon trappers, says Kelly Milner.

Milner is the event producer for UnFURled — one of many events associated with I’m Fur Real, a weeklong celebration of local furs that’s been put together by organizations including the Yukon Trappers Association and the North Yukon Renewable Resources Council.

A couple of years ago, Milner was visiting friends in Old Crow, talking to them about trapping. They had mentioned the season was going well, but they weren’t planning to send any furs to auction because they weren’t getting enough money to make it worthwhile.

Over the course of a couple of years, the concept was born for I’m Fur Real, a series of shows, workshops and events taking place in Whitehorse from March 8-10.

Wild Lives is a joint project between photographer Cathie Archbould and writer Leighann Chalykoff that brings together the stories of Yukon trappers. It’s taking place at Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre until April 30.

Also at KDCC, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 10, Bunny Bruton will teach participants how to make fur mitts.

UnFURled is the flagship event, bringing together furs and the handiwork of makers from Mayo, Whitehorse, Carcross, Burwash Landing, Teslin, Haines Junction, Dawson City, Tagish, Johnson’s Crossing, Old Crow and more.

The free event marketplace opens at KDCC from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“There’s nothing better than buying something from the person who made it,” says Milner. “And knowing where the materials came from and that it’s all homegrown and from the Yukon Territory. And that you know 100 per cent of the selling price is going back to the person selling it.… It’s our original industry.”

There will be mitts, hats, cuffs, and winter pompoms, just like the ones Team Yukon will wear to the Arctic Winter Games this year.

That’s new, says Milner. Years ago, she says the team had fur poms on their toques, but that hasn’t happened in a while. This year, as part of I’m Fur Real, a team of sewers in Haines Junction sewed 500 pompoms, some of which are going to the team.

Preto headed up that project. She says roughly 60 people came out to help sew. Some were experienced, while others had never done it before.

She says it was great to teach new sewers the tips and tricks. When she started working with fur, she took a lesson with someone from the Northwest Territories, and learned the rest by watching YouTube videos.

She says there’s a lot to learn about working with fur. Cutting it can be difficult, and being able to plan ahead, as far as which parts of the pelt to use for which projects, is also a learning process.

The sides and back of a wolf are best for pompoms, for example, while the neck hair makes for nice ruffs, and shorter leg hair works better for jewellery.

That kind of talk is another reason she was happy to participate in UnFURled.

“I love this industry,” says Preto, whose lines outside of Mayo and along Kluane Lake bring in wolf, wolverine, lynx, marten, beaver and the odd fox.

“Crafters and trappers often don’t talk so much to each other. It’s not very often that we come together and we share information. (This way) we can talk about specific things like sizing patterns or working with patterns or what we get frustrated with.”

She said trappers can also share stories about baiting in different areas, and share advice that can help the industry as a whole.

“Trapping and harvesting fur is really different in different areas of the territory, the country and the world,” she says. “You really need to talk to people in your area because it’s not appropriate everywhere. You can’t keep trapping wolverines in Colorado because its a really different situation than here where we have a huge natural environment and it is sustainable.”

She hopes UnFURled will help cultivate an understanding of the industry and a market for it.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

fur

Just Posted

Northwestel says it is investigating into the cause of the total communications blackout throughout the territory after a power failure in Whitehorse on Wednesday night.
Internet outage prompts criticism on Dempster fibre project delays

The Liberals responded that they have proceeded cautiously to avoid high costs.

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

More than 25,000 people have received the firsdt dose of the vaccine, according to the Yukon government. (Black Press file)
Yukon has now vaccinated 76 per cent of eligible adults

The territory has surpassed its goal of 75 per cent as a first step toward ‘herd immunity’

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Most Read