Supporting an Indigenous-owned business can start something — a gift can create a lifelong customer, and a gateway for meaningful conversations about reconciliation.
Seeking out Indigenous-owned businesses while holiday shopping can be one small part of your personal journey with reconciliation. It doesn’t have to end there; the season of giving can also be one of reflecting, learning and talking openly about our relationships with Indigenous Peoples. And products come with the opportunity to learn more about the people who created them (free of charge!).
Unique Indigenous-owned small businesses are all over the country, we’ve collected just a few from around the east end. For more ideas, check out our gift guides of products from local businesses and local Black-owned businesses.
This is an editorial piece and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the University of Toronto Scarborough.
1. A welcoming hoodie
In classic postcard style, this hoodie is a reminder that the word “Toronto” is derived from Tkaronto, a Mohawk term that means “where the trees are standing in the water.” Boozhoo is Ojibwe for “welcome” and Turtle Island is the term many Indigenous Peoples use for North America.
2. Earrings with a message
Bone and Quill’s products are a reference to “The Eagle and The Condor,” a prophecy that Indigenous Peoples across the Americas will one day come together again. Accessories integrate porcupine quills and elk and deer antlers from North America alongside copper, silver and wood traditionally used by Indigenous Peoples in South America.
3. A sculpted beeswax candle
A husband-wife duo teamed up to turn their love of bees and sustainability into a family business. Their beeswax candles and sculptures are themed around nature, culture and celebration, though some quirkier options include dragons and King Kong. Red Sky Candles’ products are featured alongside 38 other Indigenous artists at the Artist-Led Indigenous Art Market on Queen Street East.
4. A planet-friendly lotion
When your giftee runs out of this plant-based lotion, they can order from Wildcraft’s low waste line and receive only a new bottle, letting them reuse the pump they already have. Other products have the same option, with reusable droppers and atomizers.
5. An insulated lunch bag
Give another reason to look forward to lunch with this vibrant bag featuring art from acclaimed Anishinaabe designer Norval Morrisseau. The Cedar Basket Gift Shop is in the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and carries a massive range of products, including several from the businesses on this list. (And not to be pessimistic, but if you procrastinate your holiday shopping, you can visit the centre on Spadina Avenue and avoid delivery anxiety.)
6. A scalding hot sauce
For the hot sauce masochist on your list, “Stupid Hot” is a gourmet hot sauce by Charles Catchpole, an Anishinaabe chef and member of Couchiching First Nation. Other eye-catching hot sauce flavours from Charger Foods include chocolate chipotle, maple habanero and basil.
7. A keychain of their favourite Pokémon
Courtney Cada is a local Indigenous artist who specializes in anime and brings some of the Japanese art style’s most iconic characters to life on enamel pins, stickers, stationary, prints and more. A range of characters are available, including ones from Pokémon, Legend of Zelda, My Hero Academia, and anime YouTubers such as Ironmouse and Zentreya.
8. A Teenage Mutant Anishinaabe Turtles shirt
They’re lean, they’re green and now they’re members of the Anishnaabe community too in artist Jay Soule’s reimagining of the classic crime-fighting turtles. CHIPPEWAR apparel sports several cultural mashups that blend pop culture with Indigenous themes and empowering messages. The company also has a location on Queen Street West.
9. A stylish scarf
This scarf comes in six designs that each showcase works by Indigenous artists. Variety is par for the course at Pacha Indigenous Art Collection, a platform for Indigenous artists across Canada. Its jewelry, accessories, apparel, decor and more bring together a range of styles, materials and artists.
10. A piece of beadwork
This necklace is one of several beadwork pieces by Toronto-based artist Trip Phoenix (as a bonus, shipping is included in the prices of all items).
If you have a suggestion for a product we should feature in a future gift guide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays!