Supporting small businesses and individuals has always been important, but this year, more than ever, it’s necessary to keep creative communities thriving. Indigenous families and communities have been some of the people hit hardest this year, which is why this gift guide is made up of exclusively Indigenous-owned businesses. This gift guide has everything from food to fashion to adventure. Plus, you might find a new Indigenous brand or artist that you love. (Nothing wrong with buying a little something for yourself this year!)
1. Wabanaki Maple, New Brunswick
Who doesn’t love maple syrup? Exactly. It’s a great gift you could give anyone. Wabanaki Maple is made on Tobique First Nation, N.B., and is 100 per cent female Indigenous owned. Wabanaki Maple makes traditional maple syrup as well as barrel aged bourbon, whiskey, and toasted oak maple syrups. Yum!
2. Northern Delights, Quebec
Tea is the ultimate way to get cozy in the winter months, and Northern Delights can provide you with the perfect tea for any occasion. The Inuit of Nunavik in northern Quebec pick plants, then clean and dry them before sending them off to be mixed with other herbs and spices, creating some truly wonderful tea. There are five flavours to choose from, or you can get a mixed assortment of all. Why not give someone in your life a little variety?
3. Nk’Mip Cellars, British Columbia
Wine is the gift that keeps on giving… until the bottle is empty, so maybe consider giving two bottles from Nk’Mip Cellars this year. Nk’Mip Cellars is the first Indigenous owned winery in North America and its international award-winning wine speaks for itself. They have six different wines to choose from, all of which are bold in taste and culture.
4. Manitobah Mukluks, Manitoba
If you read our gift guide from last year, seeing Manitobah Mukluks pop up again shouldn’t surprise you. Before, we raved about their indoor moccasins, but this year we’re here to tell you that they also carry winter boots, slippers, slides, and accessories. With designs and sizing for men, women, and kids, there’s no excuse for cold feet this winter.
5. Aurora Heat, Northwest Territories
With Mukluks to keep your feet warm, you’ll still need something for your head and hands. This is where Aurora Heat comes in, with their beaver fur warmers. They work so well in part because of the temperature regulating properties of beaver fur, and they’re hypoallergenic, natural, reusable, and long lasting.
6. Ay Lelum The Good House of Design, British Columbia
Ay Lelum is a family-run clothing business with the goal of making Traditional Coast Salish art accessible to everyone. They make culturally appropriate, non-ceremonial clothing for anyone to wear, regardless of their own culture. They have pieces for both men and women, in various sizes. In other words, something for everyone.
7. Nancy Dawson, British Columbia
Nancy Dawson is a Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations artist who lives in B.C. She makes beautiful hand-crafted jewellery, often related to animals and what each animal represents in Indigenous culture. The eagle and the bear are the two most prominently featured in her sterling silver earrings and necklaces.
8. Onquata, Quebec
Onquate is run by a mother-daughter duo known for their hand-painted paddles. The paddles are inspired by First Nations culture, are made to order, and are available in a variety of designs and sizes. Although most paddles are made for decorative purposes, they can also be adapted for use in the water.
9. Slippers N Things, Newfoundland and Labrador
Slippers N Things is a family-owned arts and crafts store in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. One thing that makes this business special? It sells stone art carved by the Indigenous people of Labrador. These unique pieces are beautiful, and often involve other elements in the design, including moose and caribou antler. A truly unique gift.
10. North Star Adventures, Yellowknife
Tour company North Star Adventures in Yellowknife has everything a trip-lover could ask for, from a two-night jaunt to see the northern lights to a 16-day canoe expedition. (COVID-19 permitting, of course.) They are 100 per cent Indigenous-owned, so while you’re having a great time you also get to learn about Indigenous lifestyle and traditional customs in different geographical areas. What’s better than the gift of new knowledge?