September 30, 2021, marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This day provides an opportunity to become aware of the painful legacy and impacts of the residential school system, particularly in light of the discoveries this year of unmarked gravesites at former residential school locations.
In recognition of a day that was created to honour the lost children and the survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities, we’ve compiled this list of Canadian, Indigenous-owned and -operated beauty brands that you can shop and support.
The Yukon Soaps Company
The Yukon Soaps Company is owned and operated by Joella Hogan, a professional heritage worker and advocate inspired by her Northern Tutchone culture and heritage. The brand focuses on handcrafted Indigenous soaps and self-care products, including beautiful soaps, shampoo bars, essential oil blends, and much more. The soaps are inspired by the land and imprinted with the spirit of the Yukon, and feature wild rose petals, juniper berries, a Yukon-shaped press, and the beadwork of Indigenous artisans.
Mother Earth Essentials
Founded by Carrie Armstrong, Mother Earth Essentials is a bath and beauty line of products made from natural ingredients and inspired by traditional Indigenous recipes. Armstrong, who comes from a long line of Cree medicine women, is passionate about sharing her Indigenous culture and the spiritual properties handed down to her from elders and medicine people. Products include natural handmade soaps, lotions, body washes, sprays and aromatherapy mists, as well as teas, diffusers and essential oils.
Sḵwálwen (pronounced skwall-win) is an Indigenous business that creates botanical skincare products that honour traditional Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) plant knowledge. The brand’s founder, Styawat, is an ethnobotanist, researcher and community activist. She incorporates sustainably harvested plants and organic, high-quality ingredients into all of her products, which include toners, facial sprays, bath salts, face masks, lip balms, body butters and much more.
Cheekbone Beauty, founded by Anishinaabe-Canadian Jenn Harper, is a line of high-quality vegan cosmetics inspired by Indigenous women. The brand’s signature Sustain line of lipsticks and eye pencils, Warrior Women liquid lipsticks and other cosmetics are all designed for low environmental impact and maximum wearability. The beauty brand also aims to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous youth with advocacy work that focuses on closing the educational funding gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
Satya was founded by Ojibway mother Patrice Mousseau after she sought out a gentler alternative to the steroid cream that had been prescribed by her doctor to help soothe her baby’s skin and relieve her eczema. Made with just five organic ingredients and no steroids, Satya is more than just a moisturizer: it’s a proven effective topical anti-inflammatory that soothes and repairs all forms of dry, irritated or inflamed skin.
Sequoia – which is named for the Cherokee chief who developed the Cherokee writing system and for the giant sequoia coniferous trees that live thousands of years – was founded by Michaelee Lazore, who is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Akwesáhsne and Northern Paiute from Nevada. Lazore was inspired by her grandmother’s craftsmanship and ensures that every ingredient in her products is sustainable and ethically sourced. The design, production and packaging of all the products is done locally in Sequoia’s studio in Kahnawake, Quebec. Products include handmade soaps, bath bombs, fragrance oils, incense and more.