Lisa Preto accepts the $60,000 Yukon Innovation Prize for the Yukon-based Fur Real Project awarded at Yukon college on June 29. (Marc Fawcett-Atkinson/Yukon News)

Fur Real wins Yukon Innovation Prize

‘As trappers and crafters, we’re just busy trapping and sewing’

When Lisa Preto started trapping, she sold most of her furs online to wealthy buyers in Texas. She didn’t like it, but it was pretty much the only way to make her business sustainable.

In 2013, a raw beaver pelt fetched $13 on the global market — the same price trappers would have received in the 1930s.

“As an artist, you need to make money,” she said. “But then then there’s a point where I don’t want to send furs where they won’t be used for the right reason. People are buying them for status, and not because it’s cold outside.”

It’s a problem trappers and artists in the territory have dealt with since the global fur trade reached the territory almost 400 years ago and one the Yukon-based Fur Real Project is hoping to change, said Misha Donohoe, a Fur Real member.

The project aims to support Yukoners working with fur by developing a local market in the territory. Headed by Kelly Milner, Fur Real will launch a new marketing venture with the $60,000 Yukon Innovation Prize awarded on June 29th. Preto is also heavily involved in the project.

Judges cited the project’s rural focus, revival of traditional economies, and its potential to disrupt the existing fur market as reasons behind their decision. Twenty-nine projects applied for the grant. Of those, four were shortlisted based on their potential for societal impact, sustainability, and economic viability.

The finalists each received $10,000 to continue developing their ideas.

The Fur Real project will buy furs directly from trappers at a price set significantly higher than auction prices and send pelts away for tanning. When the fur returns, artisans will pay a deposit and take out a fur to work on. The artisans sell their work back to the Fur Real project for a fixed price. Currently, artisans are independently responsible for retailing their products.

“As trappers and crafters, we’re just busy trapping and sewing,” said Preto.

Then, the project will take care of developing a market for fur products in the Yukon. That effort will include pop-up shops, and events promoting fur use in the territory. The team is primarily targeting Yukoners to develop a local market for the furs. The prize money will be used to buy pelts, pay artists, and organize marketing events.

It’s a vision Preto is excited to be a part of.

“We’re looking back at the history of trapping in the Yukon, and we’re looking forward to where we can go from here.”

Contact the Yukon News at editor@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

World Cup season just around the corner for Yukon skiers

“I know I still really love to ski race and I feel like I haven’t reached my potential”

Whitehorse’s Nadia Moser named to biathlon World Cup team

“It’s pretty exciting to actually make the World Cup”

Ross River Dena Council appeal set to be heard

Appeal judges are looking at a 2017 Yukon Supreme Court decision on Canada’s duty to negotiate

Yukon NDP questions the cost of the health department’s medical review

$1.5 million appears to be going towards a steering committee and a “Tiger Team”

Yukon government helps fund 10 new affordable housing projects

The projects, supported by the housing initiatives fund, will build 123 new affordable units

EDITORIAL: Attention Whitehorse: shovel your sidewalks

For those who haven’t looked out a window this week, the snow… Continue reading

Youth boxers take home silver and gold medals

Alberta Sub-Novice Tournament, an introduction to competitive boxing, happened last weekend

Respite home offers a break to caregivers

Hillcrest home is a pilot project

Yukoners make a splash to mark the beginning of the swimming season

Nearly 120 swimmers took part in the Ryan Downing Memorial Swim Meet

Commentary: Lack of affordable housing in the Yukon is not about funds, but how we spend them

Why are we not building apartment complexes to serve the lower and lower-middle income bracket?

Driving with Jens: When should you plug your vehicle in?

You can probably still start your car without plugging it in at -25 C or colder, but you shouldn’t.

Yukonomist: Too far up the supply curve

Some copper mines come in and out of production as global demand for the metal surges and ebbs.

Most Read