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

furScienceYukon government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

Most Read