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Taking aim at a new business

David Ryan
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 08/06) - Bows and Arrows, a new boutique featuring First Nations' arts, crafts and clothing had its grand opening on the corner of 51st Street and 51st Avenue last Saturday.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Bows and Arrows co-owners Norma French-Heslep, left, Lila Erasmus and Roy Erasmus Jr., sit beside their caribou display at their newly opened boutique. The store, which had its grand opening on Saturday, will feature a wide variety of First Nations' giftwares and Dene arts and crafts. - David Ryan/NNSL photo

Co-owners Lila Erasmus, Roy Erasmus Jr. and Norma French-Heslep opened the shop because they saw a market for selling their products after the closure of a number of businesses in Yellowknife.

"We felt there was a real hole for First Nations giftwares and Dene arts and crafts," said Lila Erasmus.

When retail space became available after the closure of Ragged Ass Emporium, Lila Erasmus and her husband jumped on the opportunity.

They quickly enlisted Norma French-Heslep who had 23 years experience managing Langlois retail store and has a "wealth of wisdom," said Lila Erasmus. Once the business partners were established, they began contacting Northern suppliers to purchase a variety of items and attended a trade show in Alberta, she said.

Items at the boutique range from traditionally made enamel ware and clothing to jewelry, she said.

"These items have a practical use in traditional ceremonies, but they have a contemporary use as well," said Roy Erasmus Jr.

The boutique will employ five full- and part-time workers.

While selling traditional First Nations' products is important, making people aware of Dene and other aboriginal cultures is also one of the boutique's goals, said co-owner Norma French-Heslep.

"There seems to be a revival of Dene culture," she said.

"We want to reflect that pride."

Bows and Arrows will offer a number of workshops on traditional Dene and First Nations' culture, she said.

The first will be a drum making workshop Nov. 17-18, said Lila Erasmus.

Other workshops will follow on traditional medicines and culture, she said.

By running the workshops and promoting First Nations' arts and crafts in the boutique, people from all cultures will see the pride of First Nations' cultures, she said.

"The cultures go very deep," she said.

Bows and Arrows will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.