Indigenous artist shares his inspiration for National Indigenous Peoples Day artwork

June 21, 2022

2 Min. Read

By Jon Rumley, Walmart Canada Corporate Affairs

When Kory Parkin began designing artwork for National Indigenous Peoples Day, he wanted to create something that was undoubtedly Indigenous.

“When you see it, you know it’s Indigenous culture,” he said of his design. “I try my best to tell a story.”

Parkin created a design depicting the Mohawk creation story, a tribute to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the First Nations reserve near Belleville, Ont., which he proudly calls home.

“As Indigenous People, we are one big family, full of brothers, sisters and cousins spread out from coast to coast to coast who I wanted to represent in my art,” Parkin said. “In Indigenous culture, we’re always stronger united.”

Parkin’s artwork appears on T-shirts and hoodies for a new clothing line called Indigenous Proud. The brand is 100% Indigenous owned by Naut'sa mawt Resources Group and is available exclusively at 250 Walmart Canada stores and online at Walmart.ca.

“When Walmart Canada contacted us to support their Indigenous reconciliation initiatives, we formed a trusted relationship.” said Kelly Landry, Naut’sa mawt Resources Group CEO. “We approached them to collaborate with us to explore ways to elevate Indigenous artists across Turtle Island.”

In Parkin’s design, there’s a family on a turtle because in some Indigenous cultures, North America is referred to as Turtle Island. Purple represents the Iroquois people, which includes Mohawk people. Red represents courage. Orange represents regeneration and growth while yellow represents power and wisdom.

It all comes together in a portrayal of Indigenous pride to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“It really represents where we’re coming from as a culture and where we’re going together,” Parkin said. “This is our day to really celebrate our culture. This is the day to celebrate what makes us so unique and strong. We have so much to be proud of.”

Parkin was one of two Indigenous artists to win a contest run by Naut’sa mawt Resources Group to have their design printed on Indigenous Proud clothing. The other artist is Bayja Morgan-Banke from Toquaht, Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation, who was born and raised in Tofino, B.C.

Indigenous Proud clothing has been flying off the racks since being introduced for National Indigenous History Month in June.

“There is beautiful storytelling here,” said Marlise Wilson, Walmart Canada’s Senior Director of Apparel Merchandising. “We are thrilled to work with an Indigenous-owned brand that promotes Indigenous artists, culture and storytelling.”

“Walmart wants to sell my stuff and it’s allowing me to represent my culture and my community,” Parkin said. “It’s nice to see Walmart is fully on board with celebrating Indigenous culture and history.”

Parkin has been receiving requests from across the country to produce more Indigenous-inspired work to tell more stories, which he calls “overwhelming and emotional.”

“I can’t describe how amazing I feel with this accomplishment,” Parkin said. “My son will see this and he will be proud of me. He is the ‘reason why’ for me. I need to do what I can to set him up for the future he deserves. One day, he will be able to pass that down to his family.”

This collaboration has opened more doors for Parkin, who wants to build a better future for Indigenous People across Canada.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity,” the artist said. “We need the support and we need the people with the platform to help us tell our story. This is a really great moment for Indigenous People in Canada.”