Due to the success of recent months, Samson Native Gallery, which includes items from local Maskwacis artists, is extending their lease in West Edmonton Mall.
“During COVID-19, we saw an opportunity to open up a second location in West Edmonton Mall,” said Thea Simon, manager at Samson Native Gallery.
From October, 2020 to January, 2021, Samson Native Gallery opened a pop up shop in West Edmonton Mall as a response to COVID-19 measures in Lake Louise.
Simon says they are extending the lease in the West Edmonton Mall location due to the success of the pop up shop and increase in demand of real Indigenous items by Albertans. The sales of items such as ribbon skirts and handmade bead work increased over the summer months.
Due to the demand, the store has extended their lease until December of this year — just in time for the holidays.
“Customers love the store, a lot of people are very interested in our culture and are very happy to see an Indigenous store in West Edmonton Mall,” said Simon.
She says customers love the fact they have handcrafted, authentic artifacts from Indigenous artists from throughout Canada. Nothing in the store is imported from overseas.
All items sold are 100 percent made by Indigenous people of Canada. Many of the artists featured in their store have spent their lives dedicated to creating art and the tradtion is often passed down.
Simon says her team researches the best items to be sold in their store. She will often go to an artist’s home community to look for the latest pieces as well.
“The Samson Gallery showcases and supports talented Indigenous entrepreneurs by selling their authentic art and fashionable items,” said Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation councillor.
Swampy says Indigenous peoples have a rich cultural heritage and this vendor is sharing those beautiful items with the public.
She explains that it’s such a rare shopping experience to see so much Indigenous work made available to the public.
“I hope everyone gets the chance to stop in, check them out, and buy some of the articles,” said Swampy.
The primary location of Samson Native Gallery is located at the Samson Mall in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Samson Native Gallery opened in 2012. The store showcases renowned and prestigious Canadian First Nations artisans including paintings, sculptures, prints, handcrafted jewelry and more.
“When tourists visit Canada, there’s no shortage of dream catchers and moccasins — unfortunately most of those items are made overseas and are actually items of cultural appropriation. Indigenous art often gets exploited. The items at the Samson gallery are handcrafted and made by Indigenous artists. This is cultural appreciation,” said Swampy.