Canada is More Than Hockey and Maple Syrup
When you think about Canada, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re into sports, it’s probably ice hockey or the Stanley Cup. If food is more your thing, then perhaps you can picture mouth watering poutine, or rich and sweet maple syrup instead. Are you a movie fan? We bet you’re thinking of Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, and Keanu Reeves (did you know they’re all Canadian born and raised?). But, Canada has so much more to offer than talented people and amazing food.
One of the country’s biggest legacies is the often overlooked history of the Indigenous people who’ve been a part of the land for centuries. Art specifically is one of the greatest patrimonies they’ve gifted the world. It allowed them to tell stories spanning hundreds of years, and give modern people the chance to learn about them too. The artwork these communities created is a direct expression of their values, dreams, and collective experiences. Owning a piece gives us the chance to peek into the past through the eyes of the same people who experienced it first hand, and their direct descendants.
One company that passionately aims to shed more light on this is souvenir and gift wholesale brand Oscardo.
Named after the two men who founded the company, Oscar and Eduardo Lulka, Oscardo made its first steps into the wholesale goods world in 1987. They purchased an already established Canadian neckwear company, and set out to share what they’d found with the rest of the world. The success of that venture allowed them to acquire several more smaller brands and ultimately grow into the success the company is today.
One notable merger happened in 1997 when the brothers jumped at the opportunity to take on a Canadian and Native gift and souvenir business named Skemo. Then, in 2003, Oscardo had the chance to partner with several renowned Canadian and First Nations Artists with the idea of creating authentic and distinctive products. It was such a successful venture that the relationships they created back then, continue to be alive and well today.
The brand strives to ensure each product represents the artwork the way the artist intended it to. They also ensure all pieces are approved by the artist or the estate before production. Showcasing the artist’s designs and making them available to everybody who’d be interested in them, is one of Oscardo’s main goals.
How to Best Support First Nations Art
One of the best ways to support Canadian First Nations Art is of course by purchasing each piece directly from the artist. If that option is not easily available, however, don’t let that discourage you! Choosing a reputable reseller is also an excellent option. Be sure to check if they pay their artists royalties for each product sold, or if they have bought the licenses in order to fairly reproduce each piece – like Oscardo does.
But, don’t stop at just owning a piece of their history for yourself. Share that rich past you’ve learned about with the people around you. Canadian First Nations Art is not something available everywhere, and that’s part of the beauty of what sets it apart. Teaching your children about it, for example, is a great way to keep those stories alive within the next generation. Read books illustrated by First Nations artists, watch movies written and directed by those communities, or try out a new recipe for a traditional dish during family cooking night.
Not only will you be showing them the people who cared for the land before them, but you can also help them develop their sense of self as a side effect. The arts are incredibly important when it comes to general education. It helps them develop their creative side, think independently, and expand their world view.
The beauty of First Nations Art, Canadian or other, is that each community and geographical location had their own special style. In the modern world, your chances of finding Native Art that speaks to you is even greater. Artists today have endless resources to develop their own design style, on top of working with more traditional techniques. Oscardo aims to make all these different options accessible to you, regardless of what your personal preference is.
You can choose from a variety of classic First Nations Art pieces such as porcelain mugs, earrings, and wallets with historical motifs like ravens, whales, and hummingbirds. If you’re looking for something a bit different however, you can also find designs by Potawatomi Artist Daphne Odjig and Loyan Mani, Sioux Artist Maxine Noel. Featuring each artist’s personal style, you can be confident that you’re choosing a high quality product as a souvenir or gift.