Behind the Scenes at Pogadakamagizowin
Pogadakamagizowin is a very old Odawa/Ojibway word that means "what you do in the time when you are not working." It is also the name of a native clothing and fabric business operated by husband-and-wife team Perry and Annette Poeta. The word was given to them by Perry's grandmother to describe how Perry and Annette devote most of their spare time to their dream of becoming a major supplier of native fabric to native people across Canada.
Perry is a member of the Wikwemikong Reserve on Manitoulin Island and a graduate of Trent University's Native Management and Economic Development Program. His original desire to pursue native crafts led him to Hannah Johnson, an elder from the Curve Lake First Nation. From her log cabin store, Hannah sold a wide range of native products including dream catchers crafted by Perry.
Annette has always enjoyed creative sewing, pattern-making and fabrics. After she met and married Perry, they decided to turn their part-time hobbies into a full-time business. Inspired by Hannah's belief in their talent and her ongoing encouragement, Pogadakamagizowin was born.
Upon Hannah's retirement, Perry and Annette took on Hannah's store. They began using native fabrics to create a wide range of clothing. The clothing sold quickly and interest in their fabrics grew. Over the past five years, Pogadakamagizowin has expanded to include a large range of vibrant native fabrics and hand-made clothing including vests, coats and jackets, ribbon shirts and children's clothes.
In 2002, Perry and Annette closed their retail craft store in Curve Lake to concentrate on their growing web-based and mail-order business and to create an on-line catalogue for their clothing line. However, you may still see them at major pow-wows and conferences.
There are more than 600 native reserves across Canada, and Perry and Annette hope that one day their clothing and fabrics will be accessible via the internet to them all. This dream is closer to becoming reality with the Canadian Government's recent announcement of an initiative to install satellite systems in remote native reserve areas, thereby providing residents with internet access.