stɑlə̓w̓ Christmas Craft Market returns to hybrid hosting this year

The market will be virtual until Dec. 19, with 30 vendors to delve into

Atheana Picha selling jewelry and art. (Abby Luciano)

Atheana Picha selling jewelry and art. (Abby Luciano)

From Bangin’ Bannock fried bread, to artwork and soaps, the annual stɑlə̓w̓ Christmas Craft Market returned virtually and in-person this year to accommodate shoppers during the pandemic. 

Since 2018, the Museum of Surrey and non-profit organization stɑlə̓w̓ Arts & Cultural Society have collaborated on the market to showcase Indigenous artists in the community. Non-Indigenous vendors are encouraged to participate as well and pay a $25 table fee with proceeds supporting the stɑlə̓w̓ Arts & Cultural Society’s programming.

This year marks the first time that the market was hosted as a hybrid experience online in-person. Last year it was completely online due to British Columbia’s pandemic restrictions.

Sandra Borger, the curator of programs with the City of Surrey and one of the organizers for the event, says the turnout of the in-person market on Nov. 20 was great, with over 400 people attending. She expects the virtual fair to have the same level of turnout, if not more.

“I’m really glad that things [worked] out in person, and I think that the online [format] will continue. If it’s anything like last year, it’ll go really well,” she says.

“It’s really nice to see people coming together, especially during COVID when sometimes people aren’t able to do things like that. It’s all about community building.”

In addition to Borger, Phyllis Atkins was also one of the organizers of the event, and she says her favourite part of the market is seeing the talent that vendors share with others.

“It’s really important to support local artists, especially Indigenous artists,” says Atkins.

“Everyone has their own gifts, and this is a perfect time to share and highlight that beauty of making stuff.”

Atkins is also selling artwork at the market, including Let’s Count to the Moon, a children’s book she created with her sister showing the 13 phases of the moon and how to count in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm, the Kwantlen First Nation language. She says all the proceeds from the book go back to language revitalization.

“That’s probably one of my favourite things about this craft fair because I get to talk about the book more, and people are coming over and buying it. Once they hear what it’s supporting, they want to purchase it.”

To get more artists involved in the market, Atkins reached out to Atheana Picha, an interdisciplinary Coast Salish artist from the Kwantlen First Nation who focuses on various art styles such as painting, ceramics, weaving, carving, and more.

“I feel very comfortable here and supported by the staff here,” says Picha. 

“It’s nice being around other Indigenous people as well who are so dedicated to what they do, so I feel less out of place here. Some other craft fairs can make me feel sort of othered in a way, but this one I feel really comfortable at.”

View Atkins, Picha, and other vendors at the market at the Museum of Surrey’s website

“Art is a great way to bridge cultures,” says Picha. “It’s a way for people to learn more about the history here.”