In the past I’ve mentioned the benefits of buying clothing and similar goods from businesses that employ native craftspeople because it’s a way to support northern trappers and artisans, provides infrastructure to communities that may otherwise be very isolated and difficult to bring jobs to, and gives the communities a financially rewarding outlet to ensure this piece of their culture lives to be passed on. People have asked me where to get products like this, which can be difficult to answer as many of these businesses are more localized to north and don’t really exist online in a way that’s easy to make purchases from.
However, I’ve recently been made aware by some folks I know from back up North that the Manitobah Mukluks Company is a native owned and operated brand dedicated to bringing traditional Northern fashion to a global audience and supporting native and metis communities and craftspeople in the process. In addition to hiring aboriginal staff they also partner with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development to provide native and metis students with scholarships and also run the Storyboot Project that provides native artisans with the means to run workshops and teach their crafts to younger generations to help the culture thrive.
Photo by Tashina Lewis (Nisga’a, Tahltan, Tlingit, Tsimshian)
This image confronts the idea of mixed identity. My ancestors are Cree/Saulteaux, French, German/Jewish, and Scottish/English, and for most of my life I identified myself in fractions: “I am one-quarter this” or “one-quarter that.” However, it never felt good to talk about myself this way, and I couldn’t help but notice that whenever I was asked why I looked so “exotic,” the person asking would hardly ever share their own ancestry in return. While non-white features have to be explained or justified, whiteness is the norm that goes unquestioned and unseen.
Although I know that I have passing privilege, it has always been made clear to me that I look “not quite white.” At the same time, people don’t automatically assume that I am Native, and I have heard many racist remarks that were made in what was thought to be the safety of a non-Native audience. Conversely, although I strongly identify as Indigenous, in Indigenous spaces I still get asked if I am Native. The message is that I am not white enough to be white, nor am I Indian enough to be Indian. While I am told I don’t belong, I am also told ‘white’ and ‘Indian’ are legitimate categories. But really, these are false binaries that uphold hierarchies of power.
In order to fully love myself, I have to fight back against the identity labels that are put on me by settler society. After 500+ years of colonization, it is not useful to have a preconceived notion of what Indigenous looks like. Today, when I hear someone say that they are “one half” of something, I want to know, which half? We are whole people, not pies. Identity labels serve the colonizer because they are divisive and they create a breeding ground for self-hate. My Cree family loves all of me, not a part of me, and when I walk in Treaty 4 territory I know the land loves all of me, too. This is why I say Niya Nehiyaw, I am fully Cree.
“Native Canadian Cree superheroine with season-based powers who joins The Justice League United.
Prior to release, Justice League United was originally going to be the latest volume of Justice League of America retitled "Justice League of Canada” following the events of Forever Evil, and as such, creator Jeff Lemire wanted to create a new character that represented the native people of Canada, his home country. In order to make sure he depicted Cree culture faithfully and with respect, Lemire took many trips to the Cree community of Moose Factory where he’d teach art classes to many of the children, while getting their input on what they’d like to see in a superhero who represented their culture.
In the end, both Equinox’s appearance and seasonal power set were heavily influenced by what Lemire learned from the Cree people in Moose Factory" - x