As this year’s holiday season approaches, the Nation is once again offering some stellar gift suggestions to warm the hearts of your family and friends. With a growing number of creative Indigenous entrepreneurs, we tried to focus on ideas that support local communities and share the love with some of the other First Nations across Turtle Island.
While procrastinators may be the leaders of tomorrow, we advise you to plan well ahead if you’re shopping online or you may be left scouring the aisles of the local store at the last minute. Now onward to the gift ideas!
A sure solution for your next bad hair day are Kokum Scrunchies, created by 10-year-old Mya from Kitigan Zibi. Inspired by the traditional “kokum scarf”, all her colourful products are handmade with love. There are also beautiful scarves, baby bows, face masks and some lovely beaded creations available at the online store – not just for aspiring grandmothers.
Cree tourism website “Escape Like Never Before” features a gift bag bursting with Eeyou Istchee pride. Containing their much-lauded Northern Flavours cookbook – written by renowned chef Stéphane Modat and inspired by Chisasibi Elders – as well as locally harvested black spruce essential oil and a good quality thermos, the kits are offered for $65 and packed in a branded reusable shopping bag.
Waswanipi’s Kory Saganash has a new printed hoodie clothing line that features the Cree Origins logo in a variety of colours. With a plushy soft feel to stay warm throughout the long winter months, the classic unisex fit is ultra-comfortable. The company plans to introduce monthly new concepts that promote Cree literature “to further embrace your heritage.”
Eeyou Istchee Lifestyle
The idea for the Eeyou Istchee Lifestyle clothing brand came to Waskaganish’s Raymond Jolly while he was studying at Carleton University. It’s about proudly embracing your Indigenous identity wherever you go. With a variety of colourful hoodies, toques, tees and long-sleeve shirts, many of the designs feature the company’s polar bear logo.
Nomad Yoga Leggings
Nomad Entertainment offers the typical selection of hats, shirts and face masks but also more quirky branded items like phone cases, laptop sleeves, poker cards and, yes, high-waisted yoga leggings. Steve Einish’s company also organizes events in Wemindji and across the Cree Nation.
Beading, Sewing or Ribbon Skirt Kits
Activate your inner artisan with a variety of affordable beading, sewing or ribbon skirt kits from Chisasibi’s Ouwah Store. With beadwork more popular than ever and gaining greater respect as an art form, there’s no better time to get started in this rewarding pastime. The store has many popular items available as well as gift certificate possibilities.
VISIT OUWAH ONLINE at facebook.com/ouwahstore/
Innu entrepreneur Josée SHUSHEI Leblanc launched Atikuss to promote Indigenous culture while providing a fair wage to women artisans. The company sells intricately designed mukluks, customized “hope boots”, fur-lined moccasins and baby rattles.
The Rez Life Sweaters
Keep warm and sassy with clothing from Indigenous-owned and operated Rez Life. Featuring snappy slogans like “Big Auntie Energy”, “Don’t panic, eat bannock”, “Land Back” and “Burn sage, sweetgrass and the Indian Act”, these shirts keep you cozy while making a powerful statement. As a bonus, the company supports animal well-being through their partnership with “Save Rez Dogs”.
Sustainably sourced from Nunavut’s Arctic Ocean coast, Uasau soaps are named after the ancient Inuit pronunciation of “wash”, which signifies “washing off the shadows and pain of the colonial legacy.” The company offers a diverse selection of luxurious soaps, body butters and natural balms that include traditionally harvested ingredients such as whale blubber, seal oil or Arctic seaweed.
Dedicated to providing a high-quality, cruelty-free line of cosmetics products, this Anishinaabe company based in St. Catharines, Ontario, is helping Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand. Founder Jenn Harper has been featured on CBC show Dragon’s Den and is focused on giving back, with 10% of profits donated to causes like Shannen’s Dream and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
Cards for Decolonization
Move over, “Cards Against Humanity.” This satirical and humorous card game deconstructs stereotypes and encourages cultural storytelling. Made by and for Indigenous people, it’s one of many innovative products offered by Alaska-based Trickster Company. They have a particularly cool range of sporting goods, along with apparel, kitchenware and other interesting items.