The handiwork of the Dene, Inuvialuit, and Inuit people is absolutely unique. There is moose-hair tufting, birch-bark baskets, quillwork, and beadwork, as well as soapstone carving and prints representing mythical and oral traditions. Some of it has utility value -- you won't get finer, more painstakingly stitched cold-weather clothing anywhere in the world.
Most arts-and-crafts articles are handled through community cooperatives, thus avoiding the cut of the middleman. Official documentation will guarantee that a carving or a painting is genuine Aboriginal Canadian art. Don't hesitate to ask retailers where a particular piece comes from, what it's made of, and who made it. They'll be glad to tell you and frequently will point out where the artist lives and works. In the eastern Arctic, particularly, artists will often approach tourists in the streets, or in bars and restaurants, seeking to sell their goods. While these articles may lack the official paperwork, the price is often right; use your judgment when deciding to buy.
Before investing in aboriginal art, make sure you know what the import restrictions are in your home country. In many countries, it's illegal to bring in articles containing parts of marine mammals (this includes walrus or narwhal ivory, as well as whale bones or polar-bear fur). Sealskin products are commonly prohibited. Consult a Customs office to find out what restrictions are in place.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.