'One of a kind' Indigenous gift shop aims to fund violence prevention and healing programs
Atlohsa Gifts will sell Indigenous items at their downtown London storefront and online
A new gift shop opening in London, Ont. will sell authentic Indigenous products and re-invest every dollar of profit into violence prevention and healing programs for Indigenous people.
Atlohsa Native Family Healting Services will open Atlohsa Gifts on Thursday to help fund programs like Atlohsa's Family Support Unit, Crisis Phone Line and women's shelter.
"We're not in this to make money for ourselves. We're in it to cater to the community and help people that are in need."
Chrysler said that the store will be a "full-circle" investment into the Indigenous people in the region.
"A lot of the people, they do come here with some serious issues - with violence in the home and everything," said Chrysler.
"But we want to get them to change that and get them to change their perspective on life."
Selling and Teaching
The storefront is on Richmond Street in downtown London inside the Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services centre.
Chrysler hopes that people not only visit to buy items but also to learn about Indigenous history.
"There's a story behind every product that we have," said Chrysler, who has stocked the shelves with moccasins, jewelry and art.
There's also a space to create items as well.
"We have a table set up...where you get that teaching behind the dreamcatchers as well as learning how to do it yourself," said Chrysler.
Space for Stories
Each visitor is greeted by the See Me Too art exhibit about missing and murdered Indigenous women. The store's shelves carry framed photos of the women while the walls are lined with golden birds.
"It's getting that knowledge, that education out that - you know what? This is happening. This is a real thing that's happening in Canada and in our own communities," said Chrylser.
She said this is an opportunity to reach people
"We want to kind of clear up the misconceptions of who we are as Native people," she said.
"The stereotypes are not completely true," she told CBC News.
"There's a story as to how you see the 'drunken Indian' or anything else. That there is a story, there is a reason why and how colonialism has changed our heritage."
Putting Local Creations on Display
The long term dream for Chrysler is to one day sell items made by Indigenous people at the Atlohsa centre who created their item at a craft night funded with profits from Atlohsa Gifts.
"I want to be able to say 'Hey, you know what? You're good at this. So let's see if we can help sell this for you,' said Chrsyler.
"I'm so excited about that because that is one of the things I really want to do."
Atlohsa Gifts will open to the public on Thursday.
Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services will also have a booth at The Green in Wortley Village for National Aboriginal Day.