10 gift ideas from small Indigenous-owned businesses around the east end of Toronto

A candle, scarf, bottle of lotion, pair of earrings, hoodie, keychain, lunch bag and hot sauce by Indigenous-owned businesses
Get closer to checking holiday shopping off your list with these ideas from 10 Indigenous-owned businesses (All photos submitted by respective businesses).

Alexa Battler

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 

A hoodie that reads "TKanto, Boohoo Turtle Island

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. 

Get it for $54 from Resist Clothing Co. 

2. Earrings with a message

Hoop shaped earrings made of porcupine quill and anything

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. 

Get it for $60 from Bone and Quill 

3. A sculpted beeswax candle

A sculpted bear and baby bear made of beeswax

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.

Get it for $30 from Red Sky Candles 

4. A planet-friendly lotion

A lotion bottle

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. 

Get it for $34 from Wildcraft

5. An insulated lunch bag

A bright blue lunch bag with a design featuring plants and birds

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.)

Get it for $28 from the Cedar Basket Gift Shop

6. A scalding hot sauce

A hot sauce reading "Stupid Hot" by Charger Foods

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. 

Get it from around $10 from Charger Foods 

7. A keychain of their favourite Pokémon

A keychain with the Pokemon Unbreon

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. 

Get it for $12 from r0cketcat

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. 

Get it for $30 from CHIPPEWAR

9. A stylish scarf

A scarf carried by Pacha Arts

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. 

Get it for $32 from Pacha Arts  

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).

Get it for $35 from SunHeart Rises Designs

If you have a suggestion for a product we should feature in a future gift guide, please email marketing.utsc@utoronto.ca. Happy holidays!