Indigenous artist from small-town Alberta 'honoured' to showcase work in Germany

An aboriginal artist from Crossfield, Alta., got a big surprise when she checked her email a few weeks ago.

Delree Dumont was chosen from 100s of artists to paint live piece at Canadian embassy

Delree Dumont says she’s honoured to be selected to paint in front of 300 VIPs in Berlin, Germany. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

An aboriginal artist from Crossfield, Alta., got a big surprise when she checked her email a few weeks ago.

"I was reading this email at 11 at night thinking, 'Is this spam? Is this a scam?' I read it five or six times and then thought 'ok this looks legit,'" Dumont laughed.

The email was an invite from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to be part of a major trade show event in Germany at the Canadian embassy in Berlin.

Dumont, whose family is from the Onion Lake Cree Nation north of Lloydminster, Alta., has to paint three Indigenous dancers on a piece of linen stretched over a log framework in front of guests.

"I'm told the Calgary Stampede Indian princess is one of them and two other Indigenous dancers — one is another jingle dancer and the other is a male traditional dancer," said Dumont.

"I'm painting them in front of 300 Germans," she said, laughing.

Dumont’s artwork is made up of countless tiny raised dots to create a colourful, textured painting. (Delree Dumont)

She gets about three hours to spend on the piece. Some of her more detailed works take as long as 40 hours to create.

Dumont has been an artist since childhood but didn't start painting full time until leaving a career in the oil and gas industry in 2014. She's also a powwow dancer, and will be taking her regalia with her to Germany.

She paints using using a technique called pointillism, which is a painstaking process using small, raised dots to create a colourful and textured image.

Dumont has a store and gallery in Didsbury, Alta., where she showcases her own work alongside dozens of other emerging and established Indigenous artists from across Canada.

Delree Dumont’s gallery in Didsbury, Alta. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The surprise invitation comes after a busy year for Dumont. She won Didsbury's business of the year award in 2017 and received a grant from the Indigenous Tourism Association to help fund her work as an artist and businesswoman.

"It's funny how life is a circle, I was promoting Aboriginal awareness within the corporate environment for years, showcasing the beauty of our arts and culture, traditions and our history — our true history, that's not taught in schools — and now here I am doing it full time," said Dumont.

"I don't know how they picked me out of 100s of artisans but I'm overwhelmed and honoured to be selected for this," she said.

The event in Berlin is about Canada showcasing Indigenous culture to big players in the tourism industry.

"We really want to feature what we consider to be new and exciting cultural presentations, that includes artists and dance," said Keith Henry, president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.

"We're trying to promote Indigenous tourism and really make Canada an Indigenous destination by sponsoring events and featuring Indigenous culture in any way we can at these events," said Henry.

Dumont says even smaller paintings can take up to 40 hours to create using the pointillism process. (Delree Dumont)

Food is a big part of the event too, with Indigenous chefs like Bill Alexander, executive chef at the Grey Eagle Hotel and Casino on the Tsuut'ina Nation west of Calgary flying to Germany to take part.

Dumont says the artwork she creates will stay in Germany.

She leaves for Berlin on Tuesday.


Dan McGarvey


Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, using only an iPhone and mobile tech. His work is used by mobile journalism (mojo) trainers and educators around the world. Dan is focused on sharing stories from under-reported communities and groups in Calgary, including the city’s diverse northeast quadrant. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at