Indigenous Insights: Vocal About Local
It was difficult to choose what to write about for this issue of Indigenous Insights for the Best of YMM, because the best for me are the traditional lands upon which we live, learn, work and play. If you spend any time on the trails, by the rivers or exploring your own paths, you’ll know what I mean—our big, beautiful backyard is full of surprises and adventures. But I am not very good at giving directions, so I am going to write about the best Indigenous owned business I had the pleasure of shopping at this summer.
If you know me, you know I covet Indigenous made jewelry and art, whether it is from a local artist or somewhere along my journey. I’m always on the lookout at markets, Treaty Days and Instagram for one-of-a-kind items. My gatherings include earrings, medicine, purses, paintings and ribbon skirts handmade by Indigenous artisans across Turtle Island.
In case you’re wondering, Turtle Island, for some Indigenous Peoples, refers to North America and speaks not only of our culture and respect for the environment, but also to our Creation Story. While there are many variations of the Creation Story, they are traditionally oral stories and, in some versions, the turtle is at the centre, forming Turtle Island, symbolizing life and earth.
But I digress…
Now, back to the one of best local sources for Indigenous products in Fort McMurray. Spotted throughout the summer at the FNMI Festival and Urban Market, I had the opportunity to explore the collection that Lisa Marie Bourque of Eclectic Beauty Boutique curates. Lisa sells a beautiful (and eclectic) variety of handmade Indigenous items from all across Turtle Island, including artisans, local artists like her children and companies like Mother Earth Essentials.
From ribbon skirts to packaged sage smudge kits, each item comes with a lesson ensuring that she is also sharing part of our culture, instilling both pride and respect. The smudge kits are made with love and include medicine that is organically grown, a clay pot, a feather and a postcard explaining how we smudge and why. On postcards made by her children, you’ll learn a Cree word like Sîpiy (river), while also getting a glimpse of our beautiful backyard.
When asked why she shares these items, Lisa explained that she “believes we need to celebrate being Indigenous every day and that it helps instill pride in our youth.” Through lessons and making products more accessible to people, Lisa is ensuring that people are learning more about Indigenous cultures and traditions, not just from Wood Buffalo, but across Turtle Island.
She is also ensuring that I can get my hands on the all-natural sweetgrass oils and mists from Mother Earth Essentials without ordering online. Purchasing and wearing Indigenous products gives me pride as I not only honour our traditions and reclaim some of what was stolen, but I also get to support Indigenous business owners and artists.
Eclectic Beauty Boutique’s variety of products and sources highlights the diversity of Indigenous cultures and traditions by sharing items that are both from the Land, like medicine and essential oils, and from the hand like the beaded earrings by Métis Girl Beads or beaded turtles from Guatemala.
Exploring her collection whether it is in-person at a market or on Facebook, is a treat for the senses and take you on a journey around Turtle Island. Whether you are looking to feel better on the inside or shine on the outside, there is something in her holistic collection for you or someone you know.
- Eclectic Beauty Boutique Facebook: facebook.com/Eclecticbeautyboutique/
- Mother Earth Essentials: motherearthessentials.ca/
- Métis Girl Beads: facebook.com/Metisgirlbeads
- More about Turtle Island: thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/turtle-island