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Busy as beavers in Providence

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 15, 2008

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Models with Specs Model Management in Montreal model clothing and accessories by Fort Providence company Dene Fur Clouds. These pieces were displayed in Montreal during the North American Fur and Fashion Expo last May. - photos courtesy of Judy Magrum

NNSL Photo/Graphic

DEH GAH GOT'IE KOE/FORT PROVIDENCE - Staff members at Dene Fur Clouds in Fort Providence were busy last week creating a wide range of Northern couture to fill orders from far and wide. "This is our busiest time of the year," said general manager Judy Magrum late last week. "Right now we're just trying to fill orders before Christmas. It's day to day. We're trying to get as much out before the ferry stops running."

Last-minute Northern buyers can still receive Christmas orders if they are placed early this week.

"There's still a chance," she said.

Three knitters, two finishers, three part-time cutters and a yarn spinner, who also prepares antler pieces for embellishment, work at the production facility in Fort Providence. The Dene Fur Clouds retail outlet is connected to the production facility. Visitors can see the items being made to get an idea of the work involved, Magrum said.

The latest line of Dene Fur Clouds garments feature a bit of colour, whereas in previous years, the company produced fur clothing and accessories in black and natural colours. This winter rabbit fur accents bring magenta, orange and blue into the designs.

All the beaver pelts used in Dene Fur Cloud designs were harvested by local trappers in the North. All clothing is assembled in Fort Providence by staff, including the spinning of the sheer beaver yarn.

The NWT products are also available at several stores and galleries in Fort Macpherson, Fort Simpson, Taloyoak, Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet, Winnipeg, Toronto and Stratford, Ont.

The small fur design company also has a large collection of recent work for sale in Montreal this month.

"We've sent our classic items, which are the natural and black headbands, mitts and neck warmers as well as our current fashion line where we have our new helmet hat, scarves and mitts outlined with a blanket stitch in vibrant rabbit colours of magenta, orange and blue," Magrum said, adding some sweater designs went south, as well.

The sale involves up to 450 exhibitors representing leather and skins, textiles, ceramics, wood, paper and metal and attracts an estimated 240,000 visitors.

The Dene Fur Clouds display began on Dec. 4 and continues until Dec. 22.

Earlier this month the company presented more work in Montreal at a fashion show and sale for the McCord Museum of Canadian History. Dene Fur Clouds attended as part of Akwe:kon, an aboriginal designer trading group.

The company also sent pieces to Montreal in May for the North American Fur and Fashion Expo.