Caribou – by Chief Lady Bird who featured her work at Indigenous and Ingenious this year. | Image source: Indigenous and Ingenious
Now that the holiday and winter season has begun, let’s celebrate love for friends, family, and self with acts of kindness and gift–giving. There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than to support and share the authentic, unique and amazing works of Indigenous artists, designers, and artisans across Turtle Island. Here are ten Indigenous owned businesses that promote, support and celebrate Indigenous artists- and who many just have the perfect gift you are looking for!
Jenn Harper (Anishinaabe), is the founder of Cheekbone Beauty, a cosmetic company known for their vibrant lip shades named after prominent Indigenous women. The company also doesn’t test their products on animals or use parabens. She also gives back to her community by donating a portion of profits to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Her website states: “they will be donating 100% of proceeds from online sales only to www.fncaringsociety.com from the purchase of a Liquid Lipstick and Lipgloss combination our ‘Lip Kit.’”
Founder, Bethany Yellowtail (Crow/Cheyenne) combines her artistry as a designer with her passion for community activism with b. Yellowtail. She employs many Indigenous artists within her company, supported the No-DAPL movement as a water protector, and supported the Women’s March on Washington with a special “Woman Warrior” scarf she designed. The attire featured on her site are elegant and stunningly handcrafted. My favourite are the “Quill and Horsehair Tassel” earrings paired with the “De La Sole Bodycon” summer dress.
Kim Vincent inherited Beaded Dreams in Ottawa from his parents in 2007 and went online in 2015. They carry a wide range of hand crafted artisanal items like infinity scarves, artistic print umbrellas, prints from famous artists, smudge medicines and even cow horn rattles. One of their biggest sellers is the “Artist Wallet.” Each wallet was designed by some of Canada’s well known Indigenous artists. They tend to sell out fast too!
Pacha means earth in Kichwa – an Indigenous language spoken in South America. Pacha Indigenous Arts Collection is a family run business that highlights the very best work of Indigenous artists across the globe. Their online store will be up just in time to order for Christmas shopping on November 12, but for the time being you can visit them in person at 614 Bloor St. W. Check out this beautiful necklace made with Saraguro beading.
This is a beautiful collaboration between esteemed Métis artist Christi Belcourt, Indigenous owned Manitobah Mukluks and Pendleton Blankets. The blankets feature her signature style of floral motifs on Pendleton’s top quality wool fabric. You can find the blankets on Manitobah Mukluks website. Part of the proceeds go to the Onaman Collective, a group of artists and community members focused on resurgence of language and land-based practices.
Dorothy Grant’s inspiration for her work is “Yaangudang” which means self respect in Haida.
She is an internationally successful Haida fashion designer who blends her traditional art with modern fashion. The work she showcases on her website range from shawls with Haida motifs on it and this Dorothy Grant backpack that can be worn three ways with her signature hands logo on the back.
This Tkaronto based Indigenous owned company is now taking custom orders for the Christmas holidays. They work with natural materials such as leather, bone, horn, glass and shell. Their bone necklaces really stand out. Here is one of their bone dyed blue with a silver plated bear with abalone shell.
Justin Louis (Cree from Maskwacis FN) created the brand to recognize Section 35 from Canada’s Constitution Act that recognizes Indigenous and treaty rights. His co-founder is non-Indigenous and an ally. Their plan was “to use art and clothing to break down the walls of outdated social norms and come together,” and to promote freedom, equality and justice.
Goodminds.com celebrates Indigenous authors and publishers by promoting the most recent materials that become available. Their goal is to strengthen minds of those who seek to teach and learn about Indigenous issues, arts, and culture. The books they feature range from educational books such as 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, to Eden Robinson’s (Haisla/Heiltsuk) Son of Trickster.
You can find many famous people wearing Tammy Beauvais’ (Kanienkehaka) designs from Robert De Niro, Lorne Cardinal, Eric Roberts and Pierce Brosnan. She is known for her simplistic styles that use Indigenous symbolism to honour the culture, heritage and strength of Indigenous people and her spirituality. Check out this flowy feather cardigan to keep you warm in the colder months.
Barb Nahwegahbow, founder of Indigenous and Ingenious, has curated another top notch line up for this year’s show. Indigenous and Ingenious presents paintings from Chief Lady Bird and Aura; stained glass artisanal work from Summer Faith Garcia, high end jewelry designs from Nahwegahbow; and more handcrafted authentic Indigenous creations from many other artists. The show takes place around mid to late November of each year in Toronto’s Leslieville community.