These Indigenous makers are creating, preserving and celebrating their culture. —Noa Nichol
Inspired by age-old Indigenous art and created by Wendat artisans, these ethically made Onquata paddles ($175 at Simons) add a special touch to your décor. Just as the rising sun heralds a new day, this piece evokes the unwavering strength, vitality and energy of nature. Simons.ca
Not only is Cheekbone Beauty’s Birch lipgloss ($19) enriched with vitamin E to hydrate while it adds colour and shine to any look (not to mention, lasts for hours), it is part of the brand’s Warrior Women liquid lipstick collection that’s inspired by Indigenous women doing amazing work in their communities and around the globe and designed to help Indigenous youth see themselves in and be empowered by a beauty brand.
Inspired by northern landscapes, these After the Fire earrings ($395) by Gwich’in, Metis and Scandinavian artist Naomi Bourque are made of sliced, carved, pierced, sanded and polished caribou antler, hometanned moose hide and hand-stitched beads. The final northern touch: tiny caribou-hair tufting, dyed to speak to the vibrancy of fireweed.
Luxury fashion designer Warren Steven Scott, a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, whose territory is located in the interior of present day B.C., makes the kind of earrings that are more than a statement—like this red and pink Salish chandelier pair ($70) in acrylic and sterling silver.
Niio Perkins Designs specializes in traditional and contemporary Iroquois beadwork, clothing and accessories. This beaded flower shift dress ($200 at Simons) is decorated with a delicate floral pattern of coloured microbeads.
First Nations artist Kelly Robinson, whose roots and family originate in Bella Coola, B.C., with descendants from both the Nuxalk and Nuuchah-nulth Nations, has created stunning cotton face masks ($18 via Aya Optical) that boast a traditional design and include a handy pocket for an optional filter insert.
Twins Christopher and Gregory Mitchell create shirts, sweatshirts and scarves through their Born in the North label that give a modern nod to their Mi’kmaq heritage. These strawberry-patterned Kokum scarves ($24 each) were designed to have the exact same printing technique and fabric as the classic floral scarves found at powwows.
This colourful Two-Spirit soap ($12) by Sisters Sage—a New Westminster, B.C., operation, whose founders, sisters Lynn-Marie and Melissa-Rae Angus of Gitxaala, Nisga’a and Metis Nations heritage, create 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free products—boasts a blend of oils to leave skin feeling clean, smooth, soft and scented with a fun coconut mango pineapple fragrance.
From Totem Design House—a fashion, jewelry and décor brand that’s the brainchild of siblings Erin and Jesse Brillon of Haida and Cree Nation ancestry—this handmade wool and shell button cape ($345) is a versatile and luxurious piece that you’ll have in your closet forever.
This Indigenous-owned company has been crafting Canada’s original winter boots for more than 20 years, with 20 per cent of its products still produced in Winnipeg. We’re loving Manitobah Mukluks’ Okuma Gatherer boots ($350) for the coming cold weather; limited edition (there are only 150 pairs available!), they were created in collaboration with Luiseño and Shoshone Bannock fashion designer Jamie Okuma.
shayla stonechild’s pick. “This month I’m launching two necklaces (including this one based on a medicine-wheel design, in gold, sterling silver and gold-plated versions) with all proceeds benefiting the Matriarch Movement—a platform dedicated to amplifying Indigenous women’s voices and how they reclaim their power.”
lucy hemphill’s pick. “I really love everything by Sḵwálwen Botanicals—a skincare company owned by Leigh Joseph, a lovely and brilliant Squamish ethnobotanist who incorporates ancestral knowledge into her work in a respectful way. I’m deeply aware of my relationship to anything I put in/on my body, so it makes me happy to use products I know came from a good place and were harvested in a good way. Try my favourites from the brand: the Kalkáy wild rose toner ($26) and the Kw’enikwáy wild poplar whipped body butter ($34).”
aleesha harris’ it bag. “Started in Saskatchewan by Cree entrepreneur Devon Fiddler, SheNative employs teachings from ‘Indigenous Nationhood’ to uplift women, tackle stereotypes and support Indigenous makers. Offering a variety of items ranging from tops and sweaters to leather accessories, the company recently released a collection of handmade handbags called Gratitude. A design partnership between Helen Oro, founder of Helen Oro Designs and a member of the Pelican Lake First Nation band, and SheNative designer Tori-Lynn Wanotch, the five-piece range is designed to reflect ‘collective traditional roots’ while employing ‘modern design techniques.’ Each handbag design is smudged in prayer before being packed for shipment to the purchaser. This simply chic fringe bucket bag ($396) is made from elk-skin leather sourced from local hunters, according to the company’s website. Featuring hand-cut fringe and an adjustable cross-body strap, the leather showcases natural scars and imperfections to render each bucket bag ‘as unique as the women who will wear it.'”