by John Copley
(ANNews) – Moonstone Creation is a Native galley and gift shop in Calgary, that is owned and operated by Yvonne Jobin, a Cree First Nation woman with a flair for business and a unique understanding of her Indigenous heritage. Jobin operates her 1219-10th Avenue SE store with co-owner and daughter Amy Willier, an artist and designer who is also Moonstone Creation’s Sales Manager.
Entrepreneurship, noted Jobin, wasn’t her first calling.
Finance and business were her forte and she spent several years working in the corporate world of finance and banking before experiencing an inner vision that helped her take a new and more important path into the future.
“It was just a feeling I had within that told me it was time for me to do something to help preserve and champion Native cultural arts.” she explained. “When I started doing this (crafting/designing) in the early 1980s the people weren’t drawn to it – beadwork and other cultural art forms were on standby; they were dying arts.”
Jobin enrolled in the Native Cultural Arts program at the Alberta Vocational Centre in Grouard “and before the program was completed, I was offered a teaching job,” she smiled.
“I’ve been creative all my life. I think it’s in my DNA and because of this, and the training I received by attending vocational school, I was able to do some custom work and make a few extra dollars.”
As a result, Jobin was able to raise her children without the need for daycare.
Before moving to Calgary in 1994 she specialized in teaching further education classes throughout Peace River country. Today, she, along with Amy and employee (her niece) Kim Brothers continue to teach specialty classes at places that include SAIT, the University of Calgary, the Alberta College of Art and Design and corporate Calgary.
Yvonne and Amy run a successful business that deals only in authentic Indigenous art. Along with showcasing Yvonne’s traditional artwork, the gallery represents many First Nations and Metis artists. Fine art, pottery, carvings, turquoise and Westcoast jewelry, beadwork, leatherwork and authentic, locally-made gifts can be found in this unique gallery.
“We actually create most of the goods we have for sale in the store,” explained Jobin, “but we do buy quality products made by other Indigenous artists. When it comes to larger and more expensive crafts, items such as large sculptures, we take them in on consignment. I hire contract bead workers on a regular basis and we buy items such as jewelry, ceramics, pottery, fine art, paintings and more and as a result Naive crafters are able to sell their work to the public.”
Moonstone Creation is more than just a store the sells Indigenous art and provides opportunities for Indigenous crafters.
“We have an array of products and services,” noted Jobin. “We supply art materials. We also offer a variety of classes that help to promote Indigenous culture and increase interest and ability for beginning artists and crafts people. Keep an eye on our website for more information about classes for 2019.”
The classes include instruction in beading, porcupine quill work, moose and caribou hair tufting, drum making, Medicine Wheel teachings and more. Next year the classes may also include such things as moccasin making, fish scale art and dream catcher making.
Native bags and pouches, drums and rattles, a variety of clothing, skin creams and other goods are available all the time; custom work can also be arranged by contacting Moonstone Creations with your ideas. Corporate gifting is another specialty at Moonstone Creations.
“We can put together unique gift packages for your valued corporate clients, ranging from traditional medicine bags to drums, rattles, and framed specialty art,” assured Jobin. “These corporate gifts can be used to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, special recognition and many other occasions.”
Yvonne Jobin is an educated and multitalented artist and designer well known for her brilliantly designed, custom-made clothing, including beautiful vests and jackets for men, eye-catching dresses for women and much more.
“All of my jackets,” she noted, “are created from smoked tanned hide and prepared in the traditional Native way.”
In fact, most everything Jobin takes on is something with traditional and/or educational value. Using traditional materials and techniques Jobin continues the established practices of her Cree ancestors. She is dedicated to preserving and teaching her culture through the arts and with the use of authentic and traditional materials.
Yvonne is a sought-after seminar leader and teacher able to host and train both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups and companies alike. She is dedicated to preserving and teaching her culture through the arts and with the use of authentic materials of her ancestors. As a seminar leader and teacher, Jobin’s work is found in private and public collections throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Yvonne is also an appointed Marriage Commissioner by the Government of Alberta.
“I serve the Aboriginal community but when someone (from outside the community) is looking for a more meaningful ceremony and they look to First Nations people to have a more spiritual ceremony we are able to meet their expectations.”
She has also conducted numerous marriage ceremonies with themes that include traditional Indigenous, Celtic, and Western themes.
Amy Willier, originally from the Sucker Creek First Nation, now resides in Calgary where she works with her mother at Moonstone Creations. With the tutelage of her mom, Amy has learned how to tan hides, do beadwork and create many other ancient art forms. She has taken the traditional arts and brought them into the future with her personal prowess when it comes to artistic creativity. Amy, who specializes in beadwork, leather work, painting and fish scale art, loves to teach others about her culture when they come into the gallery.
Moonstone Creations is an internationally known gallery that specializes in authentic Indigenous Art. The family-based business is open Monday through Sunday and can be reached at 403-261-2650, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Visit moonstonecreation.ca for store hours and an inside look at what you can expect when you make your next visit.