Student-founded platform fundraises for Indigenous charity

ResSoc purchases Kanata face masks for residence staff

ResSoc ordered just under 100 masks.

A Queen’s master’s student and residence don have started an online platform to sell face masks designed by Indigenous artists. 

Amira Gill, a second-year Master’s Applied Science student studying civil engineering, started Kanata Trade Co. in November. All profits from mask sales go to Indspire, a charity working to remove barriers preventing Indigenous students from attending college or university. So far, Kanata has donated $6,000 to Indspire.

Gill was sponsored by Indspire through her years at Queen’s and wanted to find a way to give back to them. She told The Journal she thought selling face masks was a logical opportunity, since, given COVID-19, “everyone needs a face mask.” 

“I think promoting Indigenous work and even giving Indigenous students an opportunity to go to school, go to university, and enhance who they are is something very important everyone should be made aware of,” Gill said. 

READ MORE: Indigenous Knowledge Initiative adapts to COVID-19

The face masks feature a piece of Indigenous artwork, and the Indigenous artists who design them receive royalties every time a mask is purchased.

“I decided to use Indigenous artists because of the history of Indspire being Indigenous, and everything targeted towards helping Indigenous students,” Gill said.

The Residence Society (ResSoc) purchased a Kanata face mask for all residence student staff members. The order came to just under 100 masks at a total cost of $1,850. The masks are being distributed throughout the coming weeks.

“I’m grateful to ResSoc […] They contributed a large amount that’s [going to] help another Indigenous student go to University,” Gill said.

ResSoc General Assembly approved this expense with a “near unanimous” vote Nov. 29, according to Oliver Flis, president and CEO of ResSoc.

“The purpose of this initiative is […] to encourage dialogue within the Queen’s community on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity, and inspire other student organizations to support the efforts of equity-seeking groups,” Flis wrote in a statement to The Journal.

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ResSoc also hopes to promote compliance with Public Health guidelines, help students in residence stay safe, and to further the mission of Kanata Trade Co. to use the profits to help Indigenous students attend college and university.

The initiative falls within the group of ResSoc initiatives intended to promote Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDII) at Queen’s, according to Flis. These initiatives include hanging Pride and Indigenous flags in residence buildings, the creation of a ResSoc EDII committee, and EDII-centered programming in residence.

“The aim of these initiatives is to spark meaningful conversations around EDII and make the residence environment more welcoming for all students,” Flis wrote.

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