Indigenous face mask company gives back with donated masks

Published: November 5, 2020

Photo courtesy of Tyson Wesley

Want to stand out from the crowd of plain and boring face masks? Then you have to check out Indigenous Face Masks, a newly launched company that sells masks featuring the work of different Indigenous artists.

When you purchase and wear a mask from Indigenous Face Masks, you’ll be displaying an artist’s work and supporting an Indigenous-owned business. Plus, there’s an extra bonus—and it’s one that’s taken off in a big way.

For every mask the company sells, another mask is donated to children and youth in one of three Indigenous communities in northeastern Ontario: Attawapiskat First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation and Kashechewan First Nation.

Photo courtesy of Tyson Wesley

“There’s a lack of resources in the communities up north,” says Tyson Wesley, founder of Indigenous Face Masks, who is originally from Kashechewan. “When we realized our supplier was also going to start selling kid’s masks, we decided that for every mask we sold, we’d give a kid’s mask away.”

All masks feature the work of an Indigenous artist, including Francis Dick of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, Norval Morisseau, who was Ojibwa, and Leah Dorion of the Métis Nation.

And to say the initiative has been a success would be a serious understatement.

Wesley explains that the company launched on the evening of October 13, with the goal of selling enough adult masks to donate 750 kid’s masks to the northern communities, all of which are only accessible by ice road, boat, or air. 

In the first three weeks of business, Indigenous Face Masks sold 9,500 masks, selling out of their inventory. 

Masks have been sent to every province and territory, and shipped across the U.S.—even as far away as Hong Kong.  

All that activity means the team now has a whopping 6,700 kid’s masks to donate—and once supplies are replenished in November, they’ll distribute the remaining ones, and try to work with additional communities.

While most of the masks will be going north, the extras will go to Indigenous organizations in Ottawa, where Wesley is based. 

“People we’ve been working with are excited that we can send more masks than initially intended,” says Wesley. “In Kashechewan, for example, elementary school is about to begin again, and the children there will have masks that feature Indigenous artists. We can all wear these masks proudly and celebrate our Indigenous art.”

Indigenous Face Masks will be restocking their online store on November 10, 2020. You can pre-order an adult or child’s mask now.

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