North

Making a mark: Whitehorse tattoo shop raises money for women's groups

'We're going to try and get as many tattoos in as we can over the course of the day ... the more the better, because then the more money we can donate."

Proceeds from Saturday's 'walk in' event will go to local organizations

Tattoo artists Dan Bushnell and Kirsty Wells are hosting a 'walk-in' tattoo event on Saturday at the Molotov and Bricks Tattoo shop in Whitehorse. Proceeds from tattoos will go to several local women's groups. (George Maratos/CBC)

Get inked to support your local women's groups.

That is the idea behind an event taking place Saturday at Whitehorse's Molotov and Bricks Tattoo shop.

The business is hosting a "walk-in" day to help raise money for the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, Kaushee's Place, and the Sexual Health Clinic. It's being held ahead of International Women's Day, on Mar. 8.

 "We're going to try and get as many tattoos in as we can over the course of the day."- Dan Bushnell, Molotov and Bricks Tattoo

Tattoo artists Dan Bushnell and Kirsty Wells are the two behind the idea.

"Anytime you have an opportunity to involve people in a way where they're each getting a permanent reminder of something good and solid that they did, where we came together as a community ... I think it's really, really lovely," said Bushnell, a co-owner of the tattoo shop. 

"I feel honoured that we are in a business where we are able to do that, and support people in that way."

The walk-in event allows people to come into the shop and choose from one of the many pre-designed flash sheets or drawings, all of which have been created by Bushnell and Wells. Many of the designs are tied to the theme of International Women's Day.

Some of the tattoo designs being offered by Molotov and Bricks Tattoo on Saturday. (George Maratos/CBC)

The art ranges from gender symbols and the "resistance" fist, to a gun shooting flowers.

All proceeds from the tattoo sales will be donated to the women's organizations.

"We're going to try and get as many tattoos in as we can over the course of the day," said Bushnell. "It should be pretty fun, we're expecting quite a few people ... the more the better, because then the more money we can donate."

Important to give back to their community

Bushnell was born in Whitehorse and raised by three women — his aunt, his mom and his grandmother, all of whom were single moms.

"It's important to me that we support those charities because it's something that I feel strongly about because of the way that I was raised and because of who I was raised by," said Bushnell.

For Wells, who only returned home to Whitehorse in May, the chance to give back to the community and women's groups in particular through her art was something she has wanted to do for a long time.

'I've worked at a lot of shops and this particular shop has created such a strong community of people around it,' said Wells. (George Maratos/CBC)

She was a tattoo artist-in-residence at Molotov before. It was only after taking a permanent position there that she could make her idea a reality.

"I've worked at a lot of shops and this particular shop has created such a strong community of people around it and such a strong support system for everybody who steps foot in here," said Wells.

"I really like being part of fundraising events especially for a community like Whitehorse and for charities like the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre and Kaushee's Place — organizations that do so much for women in this town."

The Gentle Giant

Those who don't know Bushnell might not expect the tall, broad-shouldered, bald and bearded tattoo artist to also have a gigantic heart. Giving back to his community is truly something that is important to him.

"Every charity we support, we try to support a charity specifically that has to do with people and has to do with this community," said Bushnell.

'It's important to me that we support those charities because it's something that I feel strongly about,' Bushnell said. (George Maratos/CBC)

It's not just fundraisers and charity events, where Bushnell gives back. He offers complimentary tattoos to breast cancer survivors, to cover mastectomy scars. He does the same for others that have been scarred following medical procedures.

One time, Bushnell was approached by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. A prisoner was being released and he wanted to get his Nazi-themed tattoos covered up. His body was blanketed with them.

Bushnell told the jail's staff to send the inmate his way.

He did all the cover-up work for free.

Bushnell has aimed to create a welcoming, safe space at his shop. (George Maratos/CBC)

"I made sure he had legitimately changed his ways before doing so," said Bushnell.

Bushnell's support of his community is not just monetary.

His Molotov and Brick Tattoo shop has become a "safe space" where people can just come by, hang out, and talk.

"We have a strict policy ... no homophobia, no racism, no misogyny," said Bushnell. "If I do come across it, I don't kick them out, I talk it out with them and ask them to defend their ways. The reality is, the topics are indefensible."

No tattoo, no problem

Bushnell and Wells say getting a tattoo isn't the only way to support their event on Saturday. They know tattoos aren't for everyone, so they're also encouraging people to just come hang out. 

A tent will be set up in front of the Wood Street shop and a number of local businesses have donated items that are going to be raffled off. The raffle money is also going to be donated.

"I feel super fortunate and grateful everyday that I've been able to do what we do here, and I know Kirsty feels the same way," said Bushnell. "As someone that is from the Yukon and lives in the Yukon, I'm always proud that I'm able to give back in this way.

"This is the largest fundraiser we've done for them and the one that we're making the most noise about, and I think it's potentially the one that we're going to be the proudest of."

The walk-in event takes place Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.

The fundraising event takes place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Wood Street shop. (George Maratos/CBC)

About the Author

George Maratos

Associate Producer

George Maratos is a reporter and associate producer at CBC Yukon with more than a decade of experience covering the North.

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