16 Dec 2016


It's that time of the year to start thinking about Christmas gifts. This year more than ever I want to make gifts that promote my love cultures.

With what is going in the world I thought that I will focus on gifts that will contribute back to the community and raise awareness about the beauty that is in First Nation and African cultures. I want to purchase locally made gifts, books by writers that I appreciate the work they're doing to raise multicultural awareness. This year I want focus on shopping from indigenous and african artisans, handmade products and small businesses. This will be done in the hope that the gift I purchase will be helping a person and not a big company with hidden sponsors that discriminate against other cultures. Most importantly, as a multicultural mother I want to raise two proud and confident multicultural kids so, I hope to promote diverse cultures in my household.

I believe the items on this list is timeless. I hope it helps someone else buy a thoughtful gift for their loved ones.



1. I found this lovely blanket, All My Relations by B.Yellowtail, in 8TH GENERATION online shop. 8TH GENERATION is the creation of Louie Gong (M.Ed) an artist, educator and public speaker who was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community. He merges traditional Coast Salish art with icons from popular culture and influences from his mixed heritage to make strong statements about identity. 

The name "Eighth Generation" references the inter tribal value of "Seven Generations", which suggests that we consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.  By naming my business Eighth Generation, I embed respect for the previous generations all my work and recognize that my successes are a result of our collective effort.  Eight is also a lucky number in Cantonese because, when spoken, it sounds the same as the word for prosperity. 

Although he is best known for his highly sought after, hand-drawn custom shoes, Louie has received international recognition for a body of work that - like his mixed heritage (Nooksack/Chinese/French/Scottish) - defies categorization. A former Child and Family Therapist, Louie started addressing racial and identity professionally in 2001. 

"If we can remember 20 different ways to order our coffee, we can remember more than just six terms for describing our identity."

I think like him when it comes to race and identity.

2. I stumbled open @hamamatafrica over the summer and I've seen her story evolved rapidly in front my eyes. She is on a mission to build a school for the children of her hometown Bongo in North Africa and she's already written a children's book but what really captured my attention is her love for taking care of her beautiful brown skin. So I was so happy to learn that she is doing a skin products. Hamamat Africa Skin Care Feed your skin the way nature intended. Freshly Made in Ghana, West Africa. 

All products are made of ingredients that posses the power to heal, sooth and rejuvenate the mind, skin and spirit. By harnessing there ingredients Hamamat African Skincare products not only heal and beautify those who use them, they also help to empower and enrich the lives of many children through the zuzuandsasa and africaeatnow.org reading project. Where ten children between the ages of 5-7 years are taught how to read fluently in villages throughout African Continent. 

3. I authored Wasting Away in the hope to inspire every woman and girl to love their identity. I'm proud to be part of the movement to make a difference in the world. The book is set in Italy and it tells the story of a mixed race girl that doesn't want to fit in one box. She questions her identity in a world that seek to fit you into a box.

Living in the romantic city of Verona, Italy, would be a dream for any girl but not for sixteen-year-old mixed race Susanna Danso. She hates her life because she can't fit in. At school the bullies call her "Mandolino", with such a nickanme Susanna pictures a huge butt. Her aunt, a model's agent, criticizes her appearance. Susanna learns to live with the bullying and criticizing but deep inside she hurts. Everything changes when Brad Lawson, a popular hockey player in school, pursues her. Susanna feels accepted. But Brad has a secret. After he dumps her, she learns the truth. Her world flips upside down, she questions her identity - always too dark or too light with a too-big butt. With a broken heart, Susanna convinces herself that winning back Brad is the only key to her happiness. But he prefers skinny girls that look like models. Susanna is determined to become skinny, to lose her mandolin butt. She starts to eat healthily, soon her eating habits turn into an obsession to eat less. Everyone around notices her weight loss but Sussanna doesn't accept her image in the mirror. She never thin enough. When things start to slip out of hand Susanna has to battle between the need to be healthy and the desire to be thin no matter the cost to fit in. She begins a long journey towards self-acceptance. Will Susanna survive the battle? Will she find the answers to her identity quest? Wasting Away is a gripping story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt not good enough.

4. In 1889, Thomas Kay opened his first mill in Salem, Oregon where his eldest daughter, Fannie, learned the textile business. When she married retail merchant C.P. Bishop, a complementary combination of merchandising and manufacturing expertise emerged - a solid foundation for what was to become PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS. In 1895, the company’s woolen mill began making bed blankets and robes for the American Indigenous community. In September of that same year, the first products emerged from the new finishing department and the tradition of Pendleton Woolen Mills began.

5. SHENATIVE is a local shop that I came across last year at an expo. Founded by Devon Fiddler, and Chief Changemaker, it was started out of a dream. The company intention is to empower Indigenous women and girls.

Devon herself has lived and felt the many struggles and stereotypes that many young Indigenous women feel. From being growing up in feeling the racism, and sexual objectification that society perceives upon Indigenous women. Devon grew up shy and timid, and followed the negative stereotypes often perceived by society. She almost started to believe that there was no hope, and that things can’t change. But she found it in herself to beat the odds, and go against this stereotype.

Devon graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Aboriginal Public Administration and went straight to work assisting First Nations entrepreneurs start their businesses. Devon had no previous entrepreneurial experience when she started this job. Devon was in awe of some of the Indigenous entrepreneurs she watched flourish outside of her job, and was inspired.

So out of her childhood dream of becoming a designer, her taste of entrepreneurship and her negative experiences growing up as an Indigenous woman, the idea of SheNative was born.
SheNative was to be a brand of her taste, minimal in design including an Indigenous cultural element. SheNative is a high-end fashion brand about women helping other women.

SheNative donates time, energy and a percentage of profits to help empower Indigenous women and girls. We show other Indigenous women and girls that anything is possible and we don’t need to be what others perceive us to be. SheNative has a secondary education mission to change publics’ perception of Indigenous women and girls.

This SheNative launched #WeAreDene, a collaborative line with sweetmoon photography. The images focus on northern Saskatchewan stories and feature Dene syllabics translated by an English River First Nation Elder, Margaret Reynolds. 
As part of our mandate of giving back, this limited edition line will sponsor a $500 Post-Secondary Scholarship for a woman in the Arts. Application details on their website. 

6. MANITOBAH a shoe and accessory company founded by Metis Sean McCormick. The social business enthusiast is proud to honor his Canadian Aboriginal Heritage by crafting his products in Winnipeg, Canada and creating a sustainable industry for the Metis and First Nation people.

As an Indigenous-owned company, our vision is to build a vibrant, global brand that makes a significant impact in Indigenous communities.

Their philosophy is supporting Indigenous communities, sharing success with others, keeping tradition alive and celebrating Indigenous values and history.

7. FATOU and the KORA, is the newest publication of my favourite children storyteller. Fatou and the Kora takes place in West Africa as well--in a place full of beauty and wonder called Dakar, Senegal. As a writer and a publisher, I feel very drawn to stories that accurately represent the Diaspora. I like to honor the ancestors before and within me who surely had thousands of beautiful stories to share, but were not given the opportunity to do so in written form...or whom chose not to because many of the traditional West African stories and tales are shared orally.

In this story, the main character, Fatou, is a griot--or a generational oral storyteller. It's her gift...a fact that proves to be a bit problematic, as girls in her region of the country are not permitted to play the kora.

8. ESSIESPICE is the creation of Essie Bartels, a Ghanaian lady living in USA.

"For one little girl, the journey started in her mother's tiny kitchen in Ghana where her love affair with spice was ignited. Her flavorful journey continued all over the globe, spurred by her insatiable appetite for travel. She played with exotic palates; she tested cuisines, she concocted condiments. As her experiments with spices grew, so did the demand for her homemade sauces which all boiled down to what you now find in this jar: bottled up joy handed down through three generations to spice up your life. That little girl was Essie, and this is Essiespice"

Essiespice sauces and spice blends have been crafted in small batches using traditional West-African spices and cooking methods with influences from Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. They draw on the uniqueness of each place but also the seamless fusion of the different spices that complement each other. Our products are:
  • Made with the utmost care and quality
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • NO MSG
  • Contain No Artificial Coloring
  • Contain No Artificial Preservatives
  • Contain No Fillers
  • Vegan (Except our Coco-For-Garlic which contains honey harvested from bees)
9. EDZERZA GALLERY founded by Alano, a Tahltan multimedia artist and entrepreneur based in West Vancouver, British Columbia. He has had numerous group shows and solo shows in Canada and abroad and is one of the key artists in the contemporary northwest coast art movement.
Alano cemented the reputation of his growing company during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games when he designed the outerwear for the Dutch Olympic team.
He is the owner and director of Edzerza Gallery, Edzerza sports and Edzerza Artworks and has been running his own business since 2007. Recently, Edzerza Gallery has moved from the downtown Vancouver location to a fully operational online store and gallery, edzerzagallery.com. The Edzerza Artworks business plan and proposal has been set up since starting the gallery. Ongoing activities have included art production, sales, wholesale and as of late focusing on online retail sales.
Edzerza has taught and volunteered with the youth organizations KAYA (Knowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association), the Freida Diesing School for Northwest Coast Native Art, and NYAC (Native Youth Arts Collective) as well as been a judge for the YVR Art Foundation Scholarship for young Native artists. In 2009 he was the recipient of the 2009 30 & Under Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“My mandate as a young business owner is to not only to continue to succeed in running my own business, but to grow and be able to and show other artists native and non native alike that we all can create successful business from our talents.”

10. KEMIKIDS founded by Yvonne, was inspired by the creators love for beautiful, good quality and exceptional clothing and accessories at affordable prices. Also, her desire to inspire women to feel great about themselves - hence the slogans, You Are Enough, MAMA QUEEN etc!

11. VOSQ Clothing Co. was founded in concept, on the grounds of the Pechanga Indian Reservation. The theme then was to create a brand the owner's family and ancestors would be proud of, as well as a brand that my friends and community could relate to.

Vosq Clothing Co. is based in Southern California.

Their goal is to craft quality Men's Apparel that Empowers People through Creativity & Perspective to challenge their own fears and abilities. While their roots are rural, their ambition is global. They seek to rejuvenate the narrative of the Native American Community through quality products and community outreach. Especially in a manner, that people of all Indigenous backgrounds can relate to, take pride in and appreciate.

Vosq Co. draws inspiration from a variety of sources: Craftsmanship, Technology, Psychology as well as the Action Sports and Counter-Culture movement that spawned "Streetwear." 

12. NANAMFUMU is a Ghanaian-Zambian hybrid word for royalty. Curated by two women to promote culture, fashion, and literature to enhance our inner royalty. This their first curated headwrap that they're offering this holiday.

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