As consumers, we vote with our money. Who we buy from is not just a reflection of our tastes, but also our beliefs and values. In Canada, we should be doing better at supporting Indigenous-owned businesses, of which there are many. June is National Indigenous History Month across the country, making it a great time to start buying from more Indigenous companies (and of course, we must keep on doing so long after this month). Indigenous Tourism BC has an ever-growing directory of Indigenous-owned businesses in the province, which can be a nice place for locals and visitors to begin. But here are some of our favourites across Canada.
Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada to support
Squamish, B.C.-based botanical skincare company Sḵwálwen uses traditional plant knowledge to sustainably harvest local ingredients and craft its natural, organic product line. Included is the gorgeous Tewín'xw Cranberry Rose Antioxidant Serum, made with nourishing oils such as cranberry seed, chamomile, rosehip, blackberry seed, and mandarin. It goes on smooth and gives skin a natural glow.
Cosmetic brand Cheekbone Beauty creates beautiful lipsticks, lip glosses, and face palettes designed with sustainable, vegan formulas. Based in St. Catharines, the company donates 10 per cent of its profits to Shannen’s Dream, an organization advocating for First Nations youth education funding. Cheekbone’s Warrior Women capsule collection of liquid lipsticks is named after influential Indigenous women; we’ve got our eye on the Buffy shade, named for celebrated Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Based in Vancouver but shipping Canada-wide, Massy Books has an amazing selection of literature that will satisfy any reader’s tastes. From lesser-known authors to the latest best-sellers, it’s a great place to find just about anything on your book list. If you want something that they don’t have readily in store, chances are they can special order it for you.
Warren Steven Scott
Toronto-based designer Warren Steven Scott creates stunning wearable art under his eponymous label. His earrings are true beauties, showcasing traditional Indigenous shapes and symbols; the Salish Chandelier earrings are dramatic yet sophisticated, and are made right here in Canada. Timothée Chalamet fans will want to check out this.
Vancouver-based company Sisters Sage creates natural, handcrafted soaps, salves, and bath melts. Using traditional ingredients, the sisters behind the brand craft modern wellness products that pay homage to their heritage. From the Hobiyee Crescent Moon Soap to the Cedar Smudge Spray, Sisters Sage uses self-care to educate consumers on Indigenous plants and practices.
Combining Metis iconography with modern silhouettes, Vancouver-based fashion designer Evan Ducharme creates a timeless wardrobe for the contemporary dresser. The Edna Matriach Dress is one for the books, with hand-embroidered mesh side panels; hand-strung glass bead fringe; ribbed knit shoulder detail; and a centre slit at the back. It's fresh yet familiar, a piece to be worn for all occasions.
Want to read more Indigenous literature but not sure where to start? Subscribe to Raven Reads and receive a curated package of First Nations books and giftwares seasonally, bi-annually, or annually. There’s even a separate box for kids, which is a great way to start having conversations around reconciliation and celebrating Indigenous culture at a young age.
This Nunavut-based collective of artists and designers offers and array of beautiful goods, from pillowcases and canvas pouches to of-the-moment face masks. Hinaani takes cues from its Arctic landscape to celebrate Inuit culture.
The saying “put your money where your mouth is” might be overused, but it rings true. There are many ways to show support for the communities that matter to you.