Yukon fur and craft sale smaller, with more local focus due to pandemic

·3 min read
More than 10 vendors set up their tables and racks at the Yukon Trappers Association's spring fur and craft sale this past weekend in Whitehorse. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
More than 10 vendors set up their tables and racks at the Yukon Trappers Association's spring fur and craft sale this past weekend in Whitehorse. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon Trappers Association's latest fur and craft sale was a little smaller than normal — but organizers says there are benefits to keeping it local.

The event was held in Whitehorse on Saturday.

More than 10 vendors set up their tables and racks to display their furs, as well as crafts made from hides, fur, and other materials.

Some of the furs included bear, bison, fox, sheep, rabbit, and wolf.

Yukon trapper and volunteer Shannon Pearson said this year's trapping season varied for many.

"Being a huge snow year, some people couldn't get to their lines this year. The snow was just too deep," she said.

"Other people said this is one of the best seasons they've had because we had the snow and were able to find the animals."

Pearson also said some people didn't trap this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A couple of the auctions were cancelled. We did have one of our Canadian auction houses went bankrupt last year," Pearson said.

She also noted that travel restrictions are preventing international buyers from attending sales like this past weekend's. Attending a sale in person allows buyers to see and touch the furs.

"Buying fur online and with pictures isn't as lucrative."

Some of the furs included bear, bison, fox, sheep, rabbit, and wolf.
Some of the furs included bear, bison, fox, sheep, rabbit, and wolf.(Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

Keeping it local

Pearson says that having a more of a local crowd at the sale allowed people to interact with trappers and learn more about the industry.

"People come here out of curiosity. They don't understand the sustainability aspect or the humane way that trapping has now developed from centuries ago," she said.

"It's a huge education process and the trappers are slowly coming on board."

Trappers and artists are also finding ways to benefit by tapping into the local market.

"They're makers. They're sewers. They're beaders. They utilise fur for what they make," Pearson said.

"A lot of our trappers are now branching out into making garments from their furs."

'Buying online and with pictures is just not as lucrative,' said Shannon Pearson, a trapper and a volunteer at the weekend event.
'Buying online and with pictures is just not as lucrative,' said Shannon Pearson, a trapper and a volunteer at the weekend event.(Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

She says this past weekend's sale was helpful in showing that there's local support for the industry.

"It's good for our trappers to see that our big market isn't necessarily international but local," she said.

'Part of the circle'

Pearson says the trapping industry is still often misunderstood.

"People don't know much about trapping except that we take animals," she said.

"Every part of the animal is used. You skin them. The meat goes back into traps. Every part of the animal is given back as part of the circle."

She says the fur and craft fair is not only about selling furs and goods.

"Everyone here is willing to talk. It's about letting people know what we have here and what this lifestyle is about."