The north wind takes us to Wakefield

Published on July 5 2019

Khewa means ‘north wind.’ It’s a wind that takes us back to our traditions.”

Since 2001, Nathalie Coutou has been welcoming visitors to her boutique and gallery in Wakefield, gateway to an authentic Indigenous presence in the Outaouais.

Promoting cultural appreciation

More than 700 First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists are represented at Khewa. Last year, the owner also introduced a collection of clothes made in Quebec whose design is inspired by her own artworks.

Of Métis-Mi’kmaq heritage, the artist and entrepreneur wants to give people the opportunity not only “to take home a little piece of the Outaouais,” but to learn about local Indigenous culture.

As we step through the door of her boutique, Nathalie welcomes us like old friends and takes a few moments to explain the provenance and stories behind the works on display at Khewa.

“Art is a wonderful way to build connections. I want visitors to feel free to ask questions.”

Myriam Baril Tessier
Myriam Baril Tessier

Khewa: boutique and gallery in Wakefield where more than 700 First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists are represented.

Khewa, a bridge between cultures

Nathalie says she spends time by the Gatineau River nearly every day. “It’s a source of energy and a kind of tribute to the new day.”

In her shop, Nathalie is inspired by the iconic Wakefield covered bridge not only to create a bridge between cultures, but to rally her community around a cause. It’s a gathering place, a site of learning and intercultural exchange intended to “highlight cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation.”

“I chose to live in a village where I could make a difference by making a significant contribution.”

She says she chose Wakefield to settle with her family and start her business when she heard about the solidarity of the residents of the municipality, who joined forces to rebuild the bridge, which was completely destroyed by fire in 1984. Nathalie says she wanted to raise her children in that spirit of community and cooperation.

“The people of Wakefield are people with heart, people of action. It’s a special community, and it nurtures my imagination.”

 

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