Blanche Winters



Blanche Winters is an experienced seamstress from Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL. She is respected for her work in not just creating clothing, but educating others on how to create their own. Winters has been a teacher in her home town for over 17 years, showing students from kindergarten to grade nine, how to make such garments as slippers, mitts, hats, kamiks (boots), handbags and jackets. Her practice began at the age of 15 with teachings from her mother, Nellie Winters, who is also a renowned artist and elder. Winters’ mother raised eleven children, supporting and educating them as a seamstress. Working with sealskin, moose hide, fur, duffle and beading, Winters continues to pass on traditional knowledge. [1;3]

Winters has built a thriving business, sewing bespoke garments for her fellow community members, Canadians and customers abroad. Between August and December, she will make between 60 and 70 parkas, filling Christmas orders for her highly sought after work. Winters embroiders flowers and other designs that she describes as giving a feeling of warmth. [3] In the last decade, she has shifted focus from slippers, mitts, hats and boots, to her coats; sewing over one hundred in the past two years alone. [2] Being surrounded by art since birth, her daughter, Jessica Winters, has also become an accomplished artist. [4]

In 2019, her excellence in clothing design drew attention from Canada Goose, who commissioned Winters and 17 other Inuit seamstresses to create five parkas each. This work for Project Atigi would show in Toronto and Paris, with proceeds returning back to Inuit communities.. In just a month and a half, she managed to complete the pieces, working against the challenges many Nunatsiavut artists face, such as limited access to supplies. [2] Winters’ work has also been shown at La Guilde’s Nunatsiavut: Out Beautiful Land exhibition in Montreal, QC from October 3 – November 23, 2019. You can find her work proudly displayed at the local craft shop and on her Facebook page ‘Blanche Winters Crafts’. [1] Receiving orders from others in her community and across Canada, Winters’ work is always in demand, and she is more than happy to do it, “I enjoy every minute of it. I can’t wait to get out of school, make my cup of tea and start again.” She exclaims. This enthusiasm to create even keeps her up at night, “I’ll lie in bed thinking about designs.” [3] In a lineage of artists, Winters continues to build a catalogue of work admired by many.


Citations/Footnotes

[1] Interview with Holly Anderson (June 4, 2020)

[2] CBC: Blanche Winters Parkas (January 31, 2020) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/blanche-winters-parkas-1.5441705  Accessed June 8, 2020

[3] Canada Goose: Project Atigi (January 23, 2020)  https://www.canadagoose.com/ca/en/blanche-winters-517LWIN.html Accessed June 8, 2020

[4] IAQ Artist Profile: Jessica Winters (n.d)  https://www.inuitartfoundation.org/iad/artist/Jessica-Winters-30e/bio-citations Accessed June 9, 2020

[5] Embroidery Workshop with Blanche Winters (April 27, 2020) https://www.inuitfutures.ca/events/embroidery-blanche-winters Accessed June 8, 2020