From east to west, Indigenous culture has undoubtedly shaped Canada into the country it is today.
Following the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, understanding and honouring our First Nations groups is more important than ever. Here, we’ve rounded up a collection of gift ideas from Indigenous-owned brands to support this holiday season.
Founder Jennifer Harper conceived and created Cheekbone Beauty in her basement over five years ago. The makeup brand also incorporates her Anishinaabe heritage and is aimed at empowering Indigenous youth.
The company’s signature item is their ultra-creamy and buildable Sustain Lipstick ($32), which comes in eight shades ranging from neutrals to browns, pinks and red. Each colour is named for the earth or land in one of the 7,000 Indigenous languages.
Cheekbone Beauty donates 10% of its sales to First Nations youth education.
Kokum Scrunchies ($10) are designed by 10-year-old Mya Beaudry of the Algonquins. The elementary school student makes all of her handmade hair accessories with love in a slew of colours and designs!
The original Core Collection boasts a rainbow of floral prints, but Mya has since expanded to include geometric ones and pretty beaded editions. If scrunchies aren’t your thing, there are also sweet bow elastic bands ($4) and scarves ($14).
Available at Dachi’s new store, Mucker Next Door, or online via Kokum.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Book
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden’s gift shop features an electric mix of cultural keepsakes, including a large book section.
Notable kids books include two hardcover picture books ($19.95 each) by Indigenous author Teoni Spathelfer, White Raven and Little Wolf.
Satya Organic Skin Care
Patrice Mousseau developed Satya Organic Skin Care in Vancouver after her daughter Esme developed eczema as a baby. After being prescribed a steroid cream, the journalist immediately began to explore a more natural option — but realized she had to make her own.
The anti-inflammatory brand uses five key ingredients in its formulas: organic calendula petals, organic cold-pressed almond seed oil, organic beeswax, organic cold-pressed jojoba, and organic colloidal.
Eczema care is at the core of this company, including their signature Satya Jar ($45). The brand’s effective moisturizing formula can be used by anyone. There’s also the Eczema Easy Glide Stick ($29), which relieves dry, itchy, or irritated skin in a multipurpose, mess-free twist stick.
Available via Satya Organic Skin Care or at Sobeys, Hudson’s Bay, Indigo, and Whole Foods.
Born in the North Streetwear
Born in the North was the concept of twin brothers Chris and Greg Mitchell of Mi’kmaq heritage.
The brand merges their love of hometown Toronto and Indigenous heritage with items like the Tkaronto Pom Toque ($33.98). Tkaronto is a Kanienke’haka word where TO’s name originated from.
Born in the North also collaborated with Indian Giver and BITN to create a graphic long sleeve ($39.99), which donates proceeds towards at-risk Indigenous organizations in Toronto and Vancouver.
Available online via Born in the North.
Art & Accessories by Andy Everson
You’ve probably seen the viral Storm Trooper First Nations art by Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw/K’omoks artist Andy Everson. The Northwest Coast resident is revered for this stunning art, which is also on a line of accessories paying tribute to British Columbia and his heritage.
His popular fine-art Star Wars meets First Nations art designs can also be purchased online as gift items. The Darth Vader inspired “Mask Series II” (starting at $60) and the R2D2-inspired “Ally” (starting at $120) are must-haves for the OG fans. His Storm Trooper mask designs are also available in acrylic prints (starting at $550).
Available online via Totem Design House.
Leigh Joseph blended her background as an ethnobotanist with her Squamish heritage to develop Skwálwen Botanicals.
The BC native looked to the beauty secrets of her elders before launching the brand in 2017, which uses sustainably harvested and sourced ingredients.
Treat your friend or loved one to the ultimate at-home facial gift with their Grounding gift-set idea, including the go-to Kalkáy Wild Rose Face Mask ($45), which renews the skin and reduces inflammation with reship powder, French pink clay, and mango seed butter.
Available online via Skwálwen Botanicals.
Anishinaabe ikwe Denise Atkinson founded Tea Horse in 2017 with her partner. The Indigenous-owned artisanal tea company is based in Northwestern Ontario, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg Peoples.
Tea Horse is best known for its custom-roasted wild rice and tea blends, including the ManoominCha ($15), which combines the sweet, grassy notes of green tea with the aroma and nutty characteristics of wild rice.
There’s also the dark version, which includes hojicha, a roasted green tea and wild rice, blended together to create a complex and full-bodied mocha-flavoured experience..
Available online via Tea Horse.
Spirit Bear Coffee
Spirit Bear Coffee is collaboration of Tsimshian/Norweigan artist Bill Helin and Sean Harding, who is of Métis Heritage.
The Port Coquitlam-based company is inspired by the Spirit Bear Legend, which says that the Raven was sent by the creator of the universe to redesign our planet after the Ice Age. Mother Earth added a number of things, such as foliage and animals — lastly, the Spirit Bear, to be a symbolic gift of peace and harmony.
The coffee company uses the names from the story in their offerings, such as the “Raven” espresso beans, the “Eagle” medium roast blend, and the “Frog-Breakfast Blend,” a light roast blend. All of the coffees are certified organic and fair trade.
Port Coquitlam-based Spirit Bear has put together the Coffee Lover Gift Box with six blends ($50) for the holidays, as well as the The Breakfast Survival Kit ($35), which includes a coffee blend, Classic Bannock Mix and bacon from One Arrow Meats, and the Holiday Bundle ($50) with goodies including coffee, a tumbler, and biscotti.
Available online via Spirit Bear Coffee.
Sean McCormack brought his Métis heritage to the forefront when he launched Manitobah Mukluks back in 2007.
The company uses traditional practices to make its mukluks and moccasins in Winnipeg. Manitobah Mukluk’s Storyboot items are specifically handcrafted by elders and artisans in Indigenous communities.
The brand’s cozy Street Mocs ($89.99) and Camp styles ($49.99) are also holiday-ready gifts. We also love the various mitten and glove styles, including the fleece-lined Mitt ($79.99) and the leather Ladies Gloria Glove ($85).
Available online via Manitobah Mukluks.
The Yukon Soaps Company
These beauties make great stocking stuffers. Indigenous-owned Yukon Soaps are all handmade in Mayo by Joella Hogan, who takes inspiration from the territory and her travels.
The small-batch company has put together a series of gift sets including their soaps and beyond, including the Bath + Body Oil & Matching Soap Combo ($20) in a scent of your choice or a gift-pack trio of soaps with their favourites, including Yukon wild rose, Yukon gin & tonic, and petals + patchouli ($27).
Individual soap bars range from $8 to $12. Available online via Yukon Soap Company.
Dorothy Grant Scarves
Haidi designer Dorothy Grant is internationally renowned for her stunning designs that celebrate her culture and heritage. She began designing in 1988 at the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design.
The designer is well known for her gorgeous 100% silk scarves in various designs, including the signature Eagle in Flight style ($75). The scarf features a bold black and red border around a traditional Indigenous motif.
All of Grant’s designs embody the Heidi philosophy of Yaangudang, which translates to “self respect” as well as empowerment, pride, and feeling good about oneself.
Available online via Dorothy Grant’s website.
Jewellery by Chris Cook
Sprays by Sisters Sage
Sisters Lynn-Marie and Melissa Rae Angus co-founded Sisters Sage in East Vancouver. The pair have heritage from the Gitxaala, Nisga’a, and Metis Nations, which is reflected in their brand that includes wellness and self-care products.
Sisters Sage has several star products, including the Smokeless Smudge Spray (starts at $19.50), which blends traditional fragrances of tobacco leaf and sweet grass for a calming aura. The product is inspired by the cultural ceremony of smudging, which is the practice of burning medicinal plants to cleanse ourselves as well as connect with our spirits and Creator.
Available online via Sisters Sage or Westcoast Wildflowers.
Lifestyle Products by Standing Spruce
Lesley Assu of the Haida Nation created Standing Spruce out of the belief that plant medicine is an important part of human history. A local Haidi witch and herbologist, Assu used her extensive knowledge on apothecary to create the chicly designed Standing Spruce.
Skin care, healing oils, balms, and teas make up the collection, and costum formulations are also available upon request.
The Yuletide Body Soak & Scrub ($9) is a holiday-appropriate stocking stuffer that’s set to refresh your body with nourishing salts and a Christmas-inspired essential oil blend. The Autumn Face & Body Scrub ($25) is another lovely option, as is the essential Rose Lip Salve ($17.95).
All products are made in Campbell River, British Columbia. Available online via Standing Sprue or via Westcoast Wildflowers.