Canadian Hand - Made Gifts & Souvenirs
From Coast to Coast
Greetings! :

Hello friends & family of Cornerstone. In June, we celebrate National Indigenous History Month to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. I've been wrestling with myself on how to approach this "celebration", in light of the terrible events that sparked the "Black Lives Matter" protests in the United States and that have now spread world-wide. As a store owner, I try to remain politically neutral because our customers come from all different political backgrounds. You'll hear me talking about being kind to animals and the planet, but that's pretty much as political as I get, at least here at the store. As much as we'd like to say that our diverse culture here in Canada has made us resistant to racism, we all know that that is not quite true. So for me, it's hard to celebrate Indigenous history month, when I know that our Indigenous peoples from all over Canada, have been treated unfairly and poorly in the past and that continues right now into the present. At Cornerstone, we have been building an Indigenous room for some time now, to celebrate and showcase the amazing talent of our Indigenous people. Our goal is to have pieces from coast to coast to coast - From the East to the West and from the North to the south. I was lucky growing up to have parents that did not believe in racism either. I was taught that we are all the same and that we are! Growing up I had black friends, Indigenous friends, Polish friends, Italian friends, and so on. To say I don't notice the colour of someone's skin is a lie, however to me it's like noticing if someone has red hair or blue eyes. I don't judge a person on the basis of their skin colour... or hair colour or eye colour. I judge them on if they care about other people (and animals of course). If I am going to judge someone at all, it's based on whether or not they respect others, care for others and are kind to others. I care about people who build others up and who extend a hand to someone who has fallen down. When I hear the stories about how Indigenous people have been treated and are still being treated it hurts my heart. I am the granddaughter of immigrants from England on my mother's side with some Dutch & German thrown in from my father's side. While I love this country and being Canadian, it just doesn't feel right that I have more than most of the very people who actually inhabited this country from the beginning of time. I'm sorry for the ramble - sometimes chatting with friends helps me to sort my thoughts and feelings. I apologize really, to all the minority peoples who have been looked down upon for generations upon generations and who have been judged solely on their skin colour and or ethnicity and treated with disrespect and brutality. While I cannot change the past I can change the present and impact the future. At Cornerstone we are an inclusive place for all people. We believe that culture, art & craft are the tools of communication and expression. They combine the threads of the past and present and weave a hopeful tapestry for tomorrow. So I will just re-phrase that June is Indigenous Month. We will celebrate the uniqueness of our Indigenous peoples, their historic culture and ways of life, while we continue to support families and artists and craftspeople. We will learn about the terrible tragedies that have been experienced so that we can move forward together with understanding and hope. We ask that you join us in these celebrations.

Thank you
From our heart to yours,

Penny & the amazing staff at Cornerstone
Jay Bell Redbird 1966 - 2019
Jay Bell Redbird, over the course of my first 5 years of owning the store, became my friend. Jay liked to paint late into the night listening to rock 'n roll and there he would be on FB letting us know what he was listening to and giving us glimpses of what he was working on. He was a gentle giant with a big heart and mischievous smile and a big laugh. When you went to a show where he was showing his art, it was always busy but Jay always made time to talk for a minute. He was the epitome of inclusiveness. We lost Jay a year ago on June 9, 2019. His lovely fiancee, Halina Stopyra, a talented artist in her own right, was always by his side, at every show and event and remains a popular artist here at Cornerstone with her powerful, native-inspired and feminine focused water colours. The world not only lost a great Indigenous artist, but we lost a friend as well.

This was taken from Muskrat Magazine, September 2015:

J ay Bell Redbird was born August 31, 1966 in Ottawa, Ontario. He was the son, of proud parents Elaine Bell (late) and Duke Redbird. He was a member of the Wikwemikong Unceeded Indian Reserve. He was a parent to seven children whom he dedicates his paintings to.

"I paint from my heart and soul, viewing Aboriginal people through their life ways as they once lived, and as they strive to continue to live as loving, caring and peaceful people. The teachings and stories I learn flow to the canvas expressing ideas and images through my detailed woodlands style of art. A style that I connect with as part of my history passed down from generation to generation. I paint legends and dreams, which bring to life the animal spirits and all of Creation. My lines do not lead a life of prejudice they follow the red road, mino bimaadiziwin as I do, following the teachings of the Three Fires Midewiwin Society.
I am a self-taught artist. Growing up, I was around and influenced by world-renowned artists, Jackson Beardy, Norval Morrisseau, Cecil Youngfox, my uncle Leland Bell, and my father, painter and writer Duke Redbird. As a teenager, Norval Morrisseau talked to me about colours and their meanings relating how they express Aboriginal language, history and culture. My Uncle Leland Bell showed me techniques and shared traditional teachings and stories explaining the animals and their meanings. My father, Duke Redbird encouraged me to put my art out there to share how beautiful the Aboriginal culture is. Following those formative years, I continued to paint, learning more and finding my own voice and stories to share through my paintings, which are vibrant in colours, stories and meanings."

Mark Nadjiwan - Three Trees Art
From Mark's own web page, he describes his style and inspiration...

The subject matter and style of artist Mark Nadjiwan is predominantly inspired by his First Nation heritage. He is a self-taught artist whose chosen medium is pen and ink and his unique style is primarily a “fusion” of the Woodland and Northwest Coast Native art traditions. In his work, one can often see the Woodland’s characteristic x-ray and wavy line motifs interwoven with the clean formlines and geometry that often typify Northwest Coast art. Mark’s work can be found in galleries and venues across Canada as well as private collections in both Canada and the United States. His First Nation roots are grounded in the Lake Superior and Georgian Bay regions. He lives in the traditional territory of the Anishnabek Nation, in Treaty 72, along with his artist wife,  Patricia Gray , who works in various acrylic mediums.

Artist's Statement
"Although I have a deep and abiding affinity for what my Anishinabek ancestors called ‘keewaydinung’ – land of the north wind -- my experiences in our vast and wild regions are, ultimately, trans-cultural in nature. Whenever I travel into those ancient and sacred spaces, path underfoot or paddle in hand, it is my ‘internal’ experiences of being there that I later try to ‘externalize’ in my drawings. I choose to do this in a style that is largely derived from the artistic traditions of Indigenous people as they are the ones whose lives have been most intertwined with the natural world and whose images and stories most resonate with me. But the messages that I try to incorporate and communicate in much of my work such as connection, interdependence and unity, are universal.”
The business began as a mobile retail unit traveling from Pow-Wow to Pow-Wow throughout North America in the family van. During slow times the family sold to stores. When the demand from stores increased, it persuaded the family to set-up an office location in British Columbia. The needs of the retailers grew and a new direction was taken by the family in order to satisfy this demand – thus Monague Native Crafts was established as a wholesale business in 1982.
Without any formal business training, the owner, Sandi Monague Roy, developed the company while raising five daughters, two who have grown up in the company and are now an integral part of the business. The family is a member of the Beausoleil First Nations of Ontario (Ojibway).
The Governor General awarded Sandi Monague Roy with the “Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.” Extensive traveling has given the family exposure to many different groups and cultures around the world, which has resulted in a keen family interest to share experiences and knowledge with other Developing Peoples and with our youth, our future leaders. Monague Native Crafts’ dedicated team has developed the company to become the leading supplier of Canadian Native souvenirs and giftware items, offering the highest quality and superior customer service. All products are crafted by hand. The company gives hiring priority to First Nations People and Women in Development.
(Side note: I love incense and I am very picky and I can tell you that the quality of this incense is AWESOME! And they come in a variety of scents)
Explore First Nations crafts and supplies that are unique to the Six Nations of the Grand River area at the Six Nations' oldest and largest Native arts-crafts outlet, serving museums, collectors, and retailers since 1959. Find beautiful moccasins, stone sculptures, bone/horn jewellery, cornhusk dolls, headdresses, Mohawk Pottery and much more.
Find over 100 Iroquois Books. Craft supplies include hair pipe beads in bone, horn, shell, stone, leathers, furs, seed beads, delica beads, crow and tile beads, findings, sinew etc.
Inuit Carvings From Cape Dorset
(Description from Dorset Fine Art in Toronto)
The native peoples of the far north have been making artworks out of bone, stone or ivory for thousands of years. Most of the earliest carvings were of utilitarian objects and tools that were decorated and often embellished with figurative imagery. Later the Inuit began trading small carvings of animals and other representational pieces with European whalers and other travelers. Cape Dorset artists rarely use the term sculpture to describe the three dimensional representational objects they make. They prefer the term ‘carving’ and perhaps rightly so. There is a direct and immediate bond between the medium of expression, the environment they live in and the history and development of their culture. Carving is a direct extension of the skills developed through centuries of fashioning and manipulating tools and implements by hand.
Today artists in Cape Dorset work primarily with a regional stone called serpentinite, a metamorphic rock perfectly suited for carving the naturalistic forms and extravagant compositions that are so indicative of the Cape Dorset style.
This wonderful green stone that ranges from a pale putty green to bluish green grey to almost black is quarried at Korak Inlet and Markham Bay, about 200 miles down the coast. On any given year as much as 40 tons of rock is quarried and transported to Cape Dorset by boat or snowmobile. Most carvers work out of doors or in dedicated carving shacks next to their homes. You can usually tell a carver’s home by the front yard of greenish grey dust. Many artists use an upturned cable spool as a work bench for bigger pieces or they sit on a slab of cardboard or plywood on the ground to work on smaller pieces.

Traditionally the artist begins by chipping the stone with a hatchet or a small ax but nowadays most artists rough out the desired shape of their carving with electric grinders and dremmels. When the shape has been determined with the power tools the artist then uses rasps and files to further define the subject and to add critical details. He might then use an awl or just a nail to incise fine lines. When everything is complete he will finish the carving by smoothing the surface with decreasing grades of sandpaper. Finally he may rub a little wax or oil all over the stone and buff it to a nice shine.
Loon Carving - Itulu Etidloie
(1946 – 2019 ) | Tulukanni, Nunavut, Canada
Etulu Etidloie started carving in his early twenties. He learned the art form by watching his father, Etidloi Etidloi carve. His brother  Kelly Etidloie  is an established carver in Cape Dorset as well. His son Isacci Etildoie was an innovative carver with many accomplished sculptures. Etulu has carved dancing bears, many types of birds and wolves. When starting each carving, the shape of the stone dictates what Etulu will carve. He rotates the piece of stone until the form suggests a subject. Etulu works with serpentine stone and finishes it with a high polish. He is best known for his sculptures of loons. Loons have been his primary subject for over 25 years. His loons can be sitting, standing or in flight. His work has been exhibited in Canada, USA and Germany.

name spellings include – Itulu Etidloie, Itulu Etidloi, Etulu Etidloi, Etulu Etidloie
Cards & Calendars By Indigenous Artists
We are fortunate in that we work with a Canadian company out in B.C. who works with Indigenous artists and together they produce some of the beautiful Indigenous cards, boxed sets and calendars that you have come to see at the store. I thought it was important to share who these amazing and talented people are with you.
Betty Albert
Cultural Background: Cree
Betty Albert-Licenz was adopted and raised by French Canadian parents in Northern Ontario. She spent time on Vancouver Island where both of her interests in art and spirituality surfaced. During the next twenty years, she worked with pen and ink, and improved her artistic techniques.
Circumstances eventually brought her back to her Native American father, discovering her birthright as a Cree. Betty then began an art business with her father called “Wabimeguil Art Studio,” which distributes art throughout North America. Like many Cree people, dreams play an important part of her life and her work. She discovered that her dream people were faceless and this is evident in some of her work. Her art allows the viewer to experience tradition, action, and a deep spirituality. Her use of vibrant acrylic colors begs us to view creation in a new way. Through her painting, “Wabimeguil (White Feather),” she expresses not only her own growth in spirituality, but also encourages people to experience “The Peace,” that she represents in her art.
Kurt Flett 1956 - 2011
Cultural Origin: Oji-Cri, Garden Hill First Nations, Manitoba
Kurt Flett is an Oji-Cree (Moskégon) from the Garden Hill First Nation in
Island Lake in northern Manitoba. Born in 1956, and raised in Garden Hill, Manitoba, he began drawing in pencil around the age of 11 and was influenced by artists such as Jackson Beardy and Stanley Monias.
He worked as a teacher for ten years before pursuing a full-time artistic career in 1986. His journey will lead him to devote all his time to do what he likes; drawing, painting and illustration. Kurt joined fellow countrymen Jeff Monias and Eddy Munroe in popularizing the Woodland School of Aboriginal Art.
His work has been exhibited across Canada, Europe and the United States, and has been strongly influenced by the artistic traditions of the Cree of the Woods. A red sun was a characteristic element of his works. He died on May 8, 2011, from complications due to diabetes. He was buried in the Aboriginal Memorial Garden.

Maxine Noel
Cultural Origin : Santee Oglala Sioux, Manitoba
Born in Manitoba to Santee Oglala Sioux parents, Maxine Noel spent the first years of her life on her mother's reserve, which she left at the age of six to go to an Indian residential school. She was first a legal secretary, but her career soon passed after pienture and drawing. It was during a higher design course that one of his teachers noticed his inclination towards linear expression and encouraged him to make movement by means of shapes and lines. Lesson she has learned very well if we judge by most of her works. Maxine has since made its way and has become a master not only in the art of painting, drawing, but also in the practice of screen printing, etching and lithography on stone.
His works arouse very keen interest, which allows him to devote himself entirely to artistic creation.
Maxine Noel signs her works with her Sioux name IOYAN MANI, "The one who goes further".
Rick Beaver
Cultural Origin: Mississauga Ojibway of Rice Lake area in Ontario
Rick Beaver was born in 1948 on the Alderville Indian Reservation, on the shores of Rice Lake, in southern Ontario. His diploma in wild biology greatly influenced his paintings, when he devoted himself to it full time in 1981. His art expresses an emotional response that goes back to the origin of man on earth.
By combining art and nature, Rick's works show us contrasts of a well-defined structure. The backgrounds are slightly blurred and melodious compared to the graphic precision of the creature he chose to represent. This melting of forms, which remain faithful to biology, embellished with abstract backdrops, constitute the essence of Rick Beaver's paintings.
Richard Shorty
Cultural Origin: Northern Tuchone Nation, Yukon
Richard was born in Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory in 1959 and was a member of the northern Aboriginal tribe. Richard is a self-taught artist. He painted wildlife from an early age as well as his favorite sports idols and rock artists. In 1978 Richard moved to Vancouver.
In the early 1980s, Richard began painting aboriginal designs from the west coast and subsequently developed his own distinct style, using the animal form of wildlife and inserting an indigenous design inside the form. Since then, stores have asked for and bought his works.
Over the years, Richard often moved - to Vancouver Island, to Richmond, to Whitehorse, but always returning to Vancouver. Today, Richard is one of the most sought after Aboriginal artists, his works being exhibited in several galleries. He is very versatile, he works on drums, paddles, masks, rattles in addition to his paintings. His pieces are collected internationally.
Bill Reid
Cultural Background: Haida/Scottish-German, Kaadaas gaah Kiiguwaay, Raven/Wolf Clan of T'anuu
One of Canada’s foremost artists, Haida artist Bill Reid, an outstanding gold and silversmith turned sculptor, was proclaimed a National Living Treasure and was instrumental in inspiring a people to reclaim their cultural heritage.
Collected internationally and much-honored, Bill Reid created, among his best known sculptures, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (The Black Canoe, 1991) and at the Vancouver International Airport (The Jade Canoe, 1996).
Building upon the broad range of his expression, Bill Reid translated his original designs of animal crests into limited editions silk screen or woodcut prints and drawings.
Benjamin Chee Chee
Cultural Background : Ojibway, Temagami Reserve, Bear Island Ontario
Born in Temagami, Ontario, Chee Chee largely taught himself to draw and paint. His father died when he was two months old and he lost track of his mother. One reason behind his drive for success as a painter was his ambition to be reunited with her.
He was a prominent member of the second generation of Woodland Indian painters, a native art movement that began in the early nineteen-sixties and has since become one of the important art schools in Canada. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Chee Chee pursued an economical graphic style, a reduction of line and image more in keeping with mainstream international modern art.
At the age of thirty-two and at the height of a new found success as an artist and printmaker Chee Chee died tragically by committing suicide.
Kenojuak Ashevak
Cultural Background : Inuit from Ikirasaq, southern coast of Baffin Island (in Arctic Ocean of Northern Canada)
Like many Inuit artists, Kenojuak Ashevak has spent most of her life living on the land in a manner not unlike that of her ancestors. She was born at the south Baffin Island camp of Ikirisaq, and grew up traveling from camp to camp on south Buffin and in Canada's Eastern Arctic.
Kenojuak first began experimenting with drawing and stone carving in the late 1950s. Her early work appeared in the Cape Dorset Annual Graphics Collections, launching a career that would include numerous national and international commissions, special projects and exhibitions. Her life and art have been the subject of a film produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and a book entitled “Graphic Arts of the Inuit: Kenojuak”, published in 1981.
Kenojuak Ashevak has been accorded many honors for her achievements. She received the Order of Canada in 1967, and was subsequently elevated to Companion of the Order. In 1993, Kenojuak was awarded Honorary Degrees from both Queen's University and the University of Toronto.
Teevee Ningeokuluk
“A couple of years ago I made Shaman Revealed, a drawing that was based on the Kiviuq legend of a woman turning into a fox. I wanted to show how people could change from one thing to another but still be the same person. A zipper came to mind and I thought, that's a really nice idea, so I used the zipper to show how they change. ”
Born May 27, 1963, Ningeokuluk is one of the most versatile and intelligent graphic artists to emerge from the Kinngait Studios. In 2009, Ningeokuluk's first children's book was published by Groundwood Books (A Division of House of Anansi Press). Entitled Alego, it is an autobiographical story of a young girl named Alego who goes clam digging with her grandmother for the first time. The book was short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Award for children's illustration.
Since her first prints appeared in the collection in 2004, Ningeokuluk has been one of Kinngait's studio's most celebrated artists. She has a comprehensive knowledge of Inuit legends and a fine sense of design and composition. These elements that have made many of her prints highly sought after by collectors. Ningeokuluk has had numerous solo shows of her bold and resplendent drawings and some of her work has been featured in exhibitions in major public galleries and museums.
Kananginak Pootoogook
Cultural Background: Inuit
Kananginak Pootoogook, sculptor, designer, draftsman, printmaker (born in Ikerrasak camp, south Baffin Island, NWT, 1935). Son of the great camp leader, Pootoogook, he came to Cape Dorset in 1958, when James Houston brought printmaking to the North. He became one of the four original printers. Kananginak worked in all media, including silk-screen printing of textiles. However, he excelled as an engraver and lithographer, particularly of wildlife art, which he had mastered completely while retaining a personal style with definite abstract qualities.
Kananginak was also a prominent and involved community leader. He was instrumental in the formation of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative and served for many years as President of its Board of Directors. He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.
Kananginak lived in Cape Dorset with his wife, Shooyoo and their family until his death in 2010.
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