Sask. First Nation sisters developing scholarships through Indigenous greeting card sales

A new venture in Indigenous greeting cards is beginning to catch on. A collaboration between a local artist and a game board inventor has resulted in an initiative to help other Indigenous women enter the gaming industry.

Neechiemoose Novelties' profits directed toward getting more women into gaming industry

Sisters Janelle and Betty Pewapsconias are the creators of Neechiemoose Greeting Cards. Betty, right, illustrates the front of the cards. Janelle contributes the humorous quotes. (Submitted by Janelle Pewapsconias)

Two Saskatchewan sisters have created a line of greeting cards from an Indigenous point of view.

Neechimoose Novelties products are full of lovable quotes mixed with a little First Nations humour.

"Neechimoose is the Plains Cree word for sweetheart," explained Janelle Pewapsconias, the co-founder of the greeting card start-up.

Pewapsconias is also the creator of Neeched Up Games, a board game where players are tested on their knowledge of Indigenous culture.

An example of one of the cards by Betty Pewapsconias. (Submitted by Janelle Pewapsconias)

The project began last year when Pewapsconias and her younger sister, Betty Pewapsconias, who is an aspiring artist, began brainstorming ways to raise funds to attend a gaming development conference. Their idea was to create Indigenous Valentine's Day cards to raise the money needed; it turned out to be the chance at a new business venture for the pair.  

"Through the cards sales we were able to promote her work as a young Indigenous emerging artist as well as promote our work with Neeched Up Games," Janelle said.

She chose quotes for the cards from sayings she has heard or found on the Internet, while her sister paints the illustrations on the front.

Scholarship plan

Now in the second year of production, Neechimoose Novelties plans to empower other Indigenous women with the money made from sales.  

"We are now looking to sponsor three scholarships for three Indigenous women to participate in conferences, in professional development, and to advance their careers in game art and game design," said Janelle.

Janelle hopes these scholarships will be able to inspire Indigenous women to enter game development. She wants them to take advantage of the opportunities they may have not known were available.

"As a game designer with Neeched Up Games, I have noticed that Indigenous women are few and far between," said Janelle.

"It's a very male-dominated field, so I want more Indigenous women and young people to realize that this is a viable career."

The cards are available online through the Neechimoose Facebook. Every person who donates to the Neechimoose Go-Fund-Me page will also receive a set of cards.

There will be pop-up shops at the Saskatoon Inn on Feb. 15-16, as well as the AYIC Gala on Feb. 17 at the Dakota Dunes on Whitecap First Nation.

One of the cards available for purchase. (Submitted by Janelle Pewapsconias)

About the Author

Penny Smoke

Journalist

Penny Smoke works at CBC Saskatchewan in Regina. She is currently an Associate Producer with CBC's The Afternoon Edition