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    New Yukon First Nations Art Program Presents Exciting Opportunities

    Darlene Scurvey pictured. Courtesy of Yukon College

    The program was created by Elizabeth Bosely and will be instructed by Darlene Scurvey

    The Yukon College has introduced a new Yukon First Nations Art Certificate Program which will begin in September.

    The program was created by Elizabeth Bosely and will be instructed by Darlene Scurvey. It includes skills in beadwork, sewing, traditional footwear, carving, and fine craftwork. Students will spend ten months mastering the crafts and taking academic courses, including in math and English.

    Bosely says  "I think the inspiration for the program initially comes from the Yukon First Nations. They're the ones that have, for quite some time, wanted to see an Indigenous visual arts program created. I think that our Indigenous art really connects us to who we are as people. It really speaks to our heritage and our culture. There has been a real deep drive to enhance our language and to revitalize our culture, and the art is right up there. It's really been a primary focus."

    Helping the students prepare for a career in the art industry is also a focus of the program. Students will take a course called "Managing Your Art Career".

    Bosely says "We'll help them do things like create a tri-fold brochure so they can display their work. We'll help them create business cards, and they'll create a portfolio of all their art work... If they go back to their First Nation and they want to teach a workshop, they will have all of their projects documented. So when they leave they can really flourish in this industry."

    While this program is the first of its kind in the Yukon, there are similar programs offered at Aurora College in the Northwest Territories and Portage College in Alberta.

    Scurvey says she learned her skills through her childhood. "I was raised up learning how to bead beside my mother since I was probably seven years old. I saw the struggles she had to go through. She couldn't speak English but I learned English through residential school and so I had to help her market her mukluks."  

    Scurvey says the skills she learned as a child are important when it comes to teaching the students. "As a student just learning how to do these things, it's good to have a First Nation teacher who has the knowledge, who has the skills, and who's gone through the struggles of trying to market products."

    Bosely says the mix of art and academic courses form a fantastic program. She finished by saying "This program is a starting point for anyone who's interested in Indigenous visual arts to apply and to learn skills which will enhance the skill sets they already have. It's a fantastic opportunity to come and join us for ten months and explore who you are as an artist." 

    Graduates of this program will be able to work as independent artisans, produce original arts and crafts for local or international markets, and have employment in community-based art production centers. They also will be able to work at heritage centers, museums, First Nations governments, or as contractors for commissioned artwork and sales. Applications and registrations are now open.

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