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New online shopping platform to connect retailers and customers to authentic Indigenous work

Nov 22, 2022 08:43AM ● By Content Editor

By Sam Laskaris - Anishinabek News - November 17, 2022

Chad Solomon has a new focus in his life now.

But Solomon, the 46-year-old member of Henvey Inlet First Nation, is not abandoning his popular publishing and entertainment company Little Bear Spirit Productions.

Since 2005, Solomon’s company has published more than 50 books, including his own Rabbit and Bear Paws series of novels, which he co-authored. The company has also produced more than 3,000 performances of 13 original shows.

Little Bear Spirit Productions also sells a variety of other products including mugs, T-shirts, buttons, colouring books, and puppets.

Solomon, however, now plans to devote a good chunk of his time to his recently launched company titled Biskane.

This new venture – now online – is an Indigenous-focused online shopping platform.

The online platform is similar to a supply chain that works like a marketplace. The goal is to assist both retailers and customers locate authenticated Indigenous art and experiences.

Solomon said he is not giving up Little Bear Spirit Productions.

“I’m shifting towards the [Biskane] platform as my main focus,” he said. “And then making the art more of a hobby.”

During his extensive travels over the years with his company, Solomon said he noticed a massive problem with the authenticity of Indigenous art.

“Over the years, it’s been a big issue in regards to who sells and buys any Indigenous art,” he said.

Far too often Solomon said he heard how patents of Indigenous artists were simply stolen and their works reproduced in faraway places including Asia.

Solomon is pleased word is getting out Biskane.

“The early feedback is amazing,” he said. “Stores are happy to know we’re going to be coming to them with products. The response has been great. But more importantly, the need is there.”

Seven stores have already signed up to be part of the Biskane community. They include Curve Lake First Nation’s Tribal Trade and Lillian’s Crafts of M’Chigeeng First Nation.

Solomon, however, is hoping the number of retailers that hook up with Biskane skyrockets soon.

And there’s a good chance that will happen. That’s because Biskane has jumped into a partnership with Indigenous Tourism Ontario, whose membership includes 238 businesses.

“We’re going to offer them the invite to join us,” Solomon said of ITO member businesses.

Solomon also anticipates the number of Indigenous artists that become part of Biskane will also go up dramatically.

“Most of our artists right now are in Ontario,” he said, adding a pair of Alberta artists have also joined Biskane. “We are now beginning to reach out to different artisans [across Canada] to join us.”

Biskane also has a referral program where members of the public can also earn some funds. Anybody can earn some extra cash by helping to promote the works of Biskane users.

Those who help make a connection will be paid a percentage of each sale they assist with.

The referral program is available to those who are deemed either a Cultural Champion (an Indigenous individual) or a Cultural Ally (anybody who is non-Indigenous).

Another feature of Biskane is that there will be zero sales tax applied to products shipped to a First Nation when a Status Card is utilized.

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the Aniskinabek News website.

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