A hot cup of coffee in the morning is an almost universal experience. And now, Euconers can start the day with a fresh brew owned by an Indigenous people.
First People’s Coffee is owned by First Nations beneficiary and citizen Gina Nagano. Nagano is also the founder of He Shezho Zhur — House of Wolf and Associates, an organization focused on community safety and justice.
Coffee isn’t the only thing Mr. Nagano offers at his new company. The brand also aims to use its platform to educate people about Indigenous history and culture and give back to the community.
“How it all came about was that we were looking for an educational platform that could educate the Yukon people, nationally and internationally about indigenous peoples,” said Nagano.
I thought, “What is the first thing most of us do when we wake up in the morning?” drink a cup of coffee There’s nothing more motivating than a great cup of coffee in the morning. ”
The company has partnered with Whitehorse-based Firebean Coffee Roasters. First People’s Coffee sells whole beans and flours, sealed in packages promoting Yukon’s indigenous artists, while supporting them with a portion of the proceeds.
There are now three types of roasts and three types of bags, all designed by Tlingit multidisciplinary artist and Kwanling Dung First Nation citizen Mark Preston. There are deep blue, red and yellow. One bag is black and gold. Each package showcases Preston’s Northwest Coast form line his style.
“I’ve never seen such amazing artwork on a coffee bag,” Nagano said.
After the art grabs the customer’s attention, Nagano hopes to lure them to a QR code on the back that leads to the First People’s Coffee website. Once online, people can find out about Preston and his work.
An excerpt from this site reads: Preston cites European masters Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as early influences, but Northwest Coast artists such as Picasso, Mark Rothko, Bill Reed, Robert Davidson, Roy Vickers and Ted Harrison. All of his work has inspired his more recent work. ”
“Power of Art”
When Nagano asked Preston to design a coffee bag, he loved the idea.
“Gina has a vision of society as a whole and people transcending and merging the many commonalities we share. We share our insights with our creators,” Preston said.
“It is important for communities that the arts represent the interests of indigenous peoples,” he added.
Preston’s design is just the first run of the package. Collaborations with other Yukon First Nations artists are also planned.
Nagano City plans to use this platform to spread awareness of more than art. Each roast is named after a Yukon location within the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, translated by the elders to Southern Tutchone. Chū nLìn (Miles Canyon) Light Roast, Tthé Mbay (Gray Mountain) Medium Roast and K’ak’wän T’anagrū (Ibex Pass) Dark Roast. The goal is to teach the public about indigenous languages and traditional territories.
“I’m talking about our culture, language, traditions, where we live, who we are, and educating people about missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It’s about difficult things like doing things,” Nagano said.
Nagano hopes First People Coffee will be available across Canada and include works by indigenous artists from different regions.
“There is nothing I would love to see more than promoting this nationally and educating the world about who we are,” Nagano said.
Bags of First People’s Coffee are available at various retailers throughout the Yukon.
Dylan MacNeil is a freelance writer based in Whitehorse.