Who We Are
Started in 2018, Kookum Knows Best is a First Nations and Metis family-owned business catering to those who love First Nations or Aboriginal art, clothing and bath products. Our First Nations images are inspired from the the experiences, culture and lifestyle of those living symbiotically with mother earth in the far north of the NWT. All our products are prints of the originals painted by our cousin, Michael Fatt. We have been operating this business for more than 2 years but have 17 years of previous retail experience in the north. We are based out of Surrey/Vancouver, British Columbia.
Artist: Michael Fatt
It was the land and the people of my home community which gave me my true inspirations. The land, the skies, the air, the Northern Lights, the sacred animals, and the overall spiritual connections my people had with that life truly inspired me. This is what I most desired to express – how I feel inside. To spark and enlighten my own Spirit has given me a sense of belonging on this planet; this is my spiritual connection that I can share with the world.
Michael Fatt was born in 1966 in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a Chipewyan Dene, Treaty 8, and a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nations, which is a fly-in community located on upper east arm of the Great Slave Lake of the Northwest Territories. He has strong connections with the community of Yellowknife where he lived for many years; the city is a place that has become an influence to his artistic style to this day.
Michael's path hasn't been an easy one; part of the 60s Scoop, he was moved from foster home to foster home throughout his childhood. Michael experienced first-hand the systemic marginalization Indigenous people continue to struggle against: incarceration, child welfare, street homelessness, addiction as he lived in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Lutsel K’e and Yellowknife.
From the start, Michael had a tumultuous upbringing. Negative influences and difficult circumstances left him feeling lost and alone. He was filled with a sense of having no identity, culture or heritage. No friends or family. No direction or hope.
Yet, his story is one of healing and hope. Michael's art and his spirit are a testament to resilience, cultural revitalization and the promise of Indigenous-led Reconciliation.
Despite the many physical, mental and emotional challenges Michael has faced, he has found solace in his art. Throughout these hard times, it provided an escape from his reality, allowing him to bring his imagination to life.
Drawing inspiration from his home community, Michael’s vibrant acrylic paintings capture the Indigenous spiritual aspects and beauty of the land, sky and people of the North. It’s these aspects of his home that he wants to share with the world through his art.
Born in 1999 and growing up in the urban environment of Vancouver, Alex had not been connected to his rich Dene culture. At age 15 he entered foster care and with the aid of his Metis caregivers was assisted in reclaiming his cultural identity and finding his siblings. He began a personal journey of healing from trauma through his work with Elders and reconnecting with the land of his ancestors. He is a proud member of the K'atl'odeeche First Nations in Hay River, NWT. He has completed a Make-up Artist & Esthetician Certificate from John Casablanca Institute and this passion shows when he is making and selling the bath and body products. Alex has won various provincial and municipal awards and bursaries for his public speaking to MCFD foster parents on the importance of keeping foster children connected to their culture and family. He makes the yearly trip to his home reserve to hunt, fish and spend time with his family.
Rusty Whitford (Mercedi)
Rusty was born in 1968 in Ft. Smith, NWT. He is a proud Metis person whose family lived and hunted the bison of the north. His father is an Indian Residential School Survivor and his Kookum (Grandmother) raised Rusty and taught him the values he holds dear today. In the 1990's Rusty owned various retail businesses in N,. Alberta for 17 years. Rusty moved to the Vancouver BC area in 2000 and became a foster parent working only with Indigenous youth. Rusty co-facilitates presentations with Alex to foster parents on the importance of keeping foster children connected to their culture and family.