Thursday, October 28, 2021

Heritage NL Craft at Risk

Two of the province’s leading cultural bodies are worried about a decline in traditional craft skills.

Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its traditions and culture, heritage skills, arts, and crafts. Some of those, like rug-hooking, have seen a resurgence in interest. Others, like birch broom making or Indigenous basket-making traditions, face an uncertain future.

Concerned about the loss of traditional know-how, Heritage NL and the Craft Council of NL are working to document these crafts at risk and developing a new funding program to encourage the sharing of heritage skills.

The Heritage NL Craft at Risk List 2021 features 55 crafts, 10 of which are listed as critically endangered. These include things such as bark tanning, harness making, and the fabrication of tin flat-bottom kettles. An additional 32 crafts are listed as endangered, while 12 crafts are listed as currently viable. One craft, rope making, is listed as having become extinct in the last generation.

Heritage NL Craft at Risk List 2021

“The promotion and support of craft producers in the province is a vital part of maintaining and developing the cultural diversity that makes Newfoundland and Labrador unique,” says Rowena House, Executive Director of Craft Council of NL. “This furthers the preservation of traditional craftsmanship while pushing the boundaries of fine craft among the provincial producers.”

Recognizing the importance of tradition-bearers to the transmission of craft, Heritage NL has developed a new grant program designed to pass on these skills at risk. The new Mentor-Apprentice program has funds of up to $10,000 per grant, split between a teacher/learner pair, to help maintain those crafts which the organizations have listed as either critically endangered or endangered.

Heritage NL Mentor-Apprentice Program

“One possible project could be a master boatbuilder taking on an apprentice during the construction of a regionally-specific boat type, for example,” says Dale Jarvis, Executive Director of Heritage NL. “Our staff will work with the mentor-apprentice team to help focus their final product, and to record and photograph their work for posterity.”

There are three deadlines for the pilot granting program, in December of this year, and February and April of 2022.

The project is supported by the Labour Market Partnerships program, Department of Immigration, Skills and Labour, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Information on both the list and the granting program are available through the Heritage NL website -


For more information contact:

Dale Jarvis, Executive Director
Heritage NL
709-739-1892 x1

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