(Treaty Truckhouse fundraiser [top left], Rez Famous Clothing [top right], Warrior Life Clothing [bottom left], Unist’ot’en fundraiser [bottom right])
If you are anything like me, I need multiple lists to keep myself organized this time of year. With the holidays speeding towards us faster than we can keep up, I need a list for tasks to complete at work before we break for the holidays; a grocery list to prepare for multiple family feasts; and, of course, the holiday gift-giving list. Without these lists, I would certainly be doomed to rely on my brain, which is already overloaded with the 2019 work I have to complete and the giant to-do list for 2020. I find lists extremely helpful, as they keep me from impulse shopping and overspending. I also have another list, which is my giving list – a list that reminds me to share my privilege with others. The one thing these lists all have in common is that they are all focused on buying native and giving native all year long.
Recently, Niigaan Sinclair, the award-winning Anishinabe columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, wrote an article urging Manitobans and Canadians to buy Indigenous.
He argues that it makes more sense to invest in Indigenous businesses that contribute to local economies, rather than the large US-owned box stores where billions of dollars flow to US corporate owners. This makes a great deal of sense. When you invest in First Nation businesses for example, you help First Nation economies, which in turn, help regional Canadian economies through their own spending and employment. Niigaan provided a list of various Indigenous businesses that offer everything from food, music and books; to clothing and jewellery. Who could ask for a better list of gift-giving options, than this list of Indigenous goods that are handmade and steeped in the rich cultures and traditions of local First Nations?
This past summer, Sarain Fox, an Anishinabe television host, actress, model and activist shared with the Globe and Mail how she assembles her wardrobe from Indigenous-made products.
Sarain has always made lifting up others part of everything she does and giving a nod to her curated list of Indigenous artists and businesses is part of helping to promote them. She highlighted some of the Indigenous clothing, boots and purses she wears every day. Her goal is to celebrate Indigenous peoples every day – not just on holidays like Indigenous Peoples Day. A shout-out from someone with Sarain’s public profile helps promote Indigenous businesses and boost the Indigenous economy referenced by Niigaan. You can also find other curated lists of native owned businesses in Canada and the USA on websites like Beyond Buckskin:
I agree with them both. Buying native helps support local First Nation and Canadian economies and should be a focus all year round – not just during the holidays. I would also add that it is usually this time of year that we see public calls to support various groups and causes with donations. The holidays evoke in many people a moral obligation and desire to share their good fortune – big or small – with others to help address urgent individual needs and/or advance social justice more broadly. To my mind, this should never be about “charity” or holiday-based “good will”; but instead be about fulfilling our legal obligations to one another under the various treaties we signed to share the lands, resources and wealth. It is also about real reconciliation, which is about more than a celebration of native cultures, but also about individual responsibility to address past and ongoing injustices.
To this end, there are various native groups and organizations to which you could direct your giving this holiday and throughout the new year ahead. There are small organizations working hard to advocate for the basic human rights of First Nations children in foster care or the safety of Indigenous women and girls. Similarly, there are smaller, more informal groups in need of supplies and/or legal assistance as they occupy First Nation territories to protect the lands, waters, plants and animals from the devastating environmental destruction of the extractive industry. In protecting water sources, forests and ecosystems from contamination, First Nations warriors are protecting the health and well-being of both Indigenous peoples and Canadians. We all have treaty and other obligations to contribute in some way to the protection of Turtle Island for future generations – and giving to native causes can be part of that.
There are far too many native businesses and causes to note here, so what follows is a list of some of the ways that I buy native and give native all year round. While some of those on the Buy Native list are larger businesses, there are hundreds of individuals who sell their goods at pow wows and cultural events, as well as through social media outlets. I have purchased some of the best beaded earrings from artists who I spotted on Instagram. Similarly, while larger native organizations on the Give Native list are easier to find through their websites, don’t forget to scan your social media for smaller groups making call outs for urgently needed donations.
Cheekbone Beauty was founded by Jennifer Harper and is an Indigenous owned, cruelty free cosmetic company. They offer high quality cosmetics and donate part of their profits to help fund education for Indigenous peoples. Their Warrior Women line of lipsticks include shades named after native women warriors – like Sarain Fox, Cindy Blackstock and me! I bought their most recent holiday collection, which includes my shade of lipstick – true warm red!
She Native is an Indigenous owned company that offers leather handbags and clothing that share Indigenous teachings and positive messaging. I have bought their t-shirts and hoodies and just love them! I really appreciate the positive messaging and celebration of Indigenous women.
Tammy Beauvais Designs is another company that is 100% Indigenous owned and Tammy can be seen selling purses, ribbon skirts and native designed clothing for men and women all over Canada. One of my favorite things about pow wows is racing to find her stall to buy something new. One of my favorites is a beautiful white bomber jacket with native-inspired flowers all over it.
Nishiin Designs is a business I just recently found through social media. They are an Indigenous company that offers Anishinabe designed purses, clothing and accessories. I saw one of their purses on Instagram, fell in love with it and insta-ordered it!
Shop in Store:
Cedar Basket Gift Shop is located inside the Native Canadian Centre in downtown Toronto. They have a huge collection of artwork, crafts, household items, jewellery and moccasins handcrafted by Indigenous peoples. I especially love their baskets and beadwork. I have never been able to visit that store and leave without a gift for someone.
Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique is a native-owned store at The Forks in Winnipeg that is well-known for its custom work. I had shirts and blazers specially tailored for my son who loves wearing his one-of-a-kind beaded suits to work.
Rez Famous is a Mi’kmaw clothing company from back home in the Maritimes. I have their tees, hoodies, caps and everything I can get my hands on! You can find them at pow wows as well as on Facebook.
Warrior Life clothing is one of my own latest initiatives to help raise funds to keep my media completely independent. I use the proceeds to help pay for the costs of my Youtube channel, my Warrior Life podcast and my Indigenous Nationhood blog. It will also (hopefully) defray some of the costs for my second podcast set to be released in the new year.
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, headed by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, advocates strenuously for First Nations children, youth and families so they can grow up happy, healthy, safe and proud of who they are as First Nations. They brought a human rights complaint against Canada for historic and ongoing racial discrimination against First Nations children in foster care – and won. They continue their battle at the Tribunal and in the courts to force Canada to comply with the orders and finally end discrimination. There are so many ways you can help them: including “7 Free Ways to Help”; purchasing children’s educational books and calendars; and/or making donations.
Gitdimt’en Yintah Access is a group of First Nation peoples from the Wet’suwet’en Nation from Gitdimt’en clan who are governing their territory and protecting it from pipelines. They are true warriors who risk their safety and freedom by protecting lands and waters from the devastation of pipelines. They need our support in terms of supplies and donations for their legal fees. You can give one-time donations or ongoing monthly support.
Unist’ot’en Camp is another clan from the Wet’suwet’en Nation governing their territory to protect it from pipelines. You can support them through buying their merchandise, making a one time donation to their legal fund or offering monthly support for supplies for those protecting the lands and waters.
Treaty Truckhouse Legal Fund is a group of grassroots peoples including Mi’kmaw treaty rights holders, grandmothers and local allies who are standing united as water protectors of the Shubenacadie River in the Sipekne’katik District of Mi’kma’ki. They have been trying to protect the river for years and as a result need donations for legal expenses.
Tiny House Warriors is an initiative from the Secwepemc peoples whose mission is to: “stop the Trans Mountain pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory.” The Secwepemc peoples are asserting their law and jurisdiction on their territory by building tiny houses all along the pipeline route in order to block access to this pipeline. Kanahus Manuel is one of the native women warriors who has placed her safety and freedom on the line to protect our collective futures. You can donate through their official Tiny House Warriors or Secwepemc Nation Youth Network Go Fund Me pages on their website.
I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday with family and friends and I look forward to joining forces with you all in the New Year to advocate for justice on Turtle Island. PODCAST: Here is my extended Warrior Life podcast episode on this same issue: https://soundcloud.com/pampalmater/buy-native-give-native-all-year-long