Policy Sectors

Native Women's Association of Canada(NWAC) Releases

Historic Report on Indigenous Beauty Following National Roundtable


June 22nd, 2022

(Ottawa, ON) – Today, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), in partnership with Sephora Canada, released a new report outlining findings from a first-of-its-kind roundtable conversation about Indigenous beauty. Held in October 2021, the roundtable resulted in a historic conversation to support decolonizing beauty standards and uplifting Indigenous women and gender-diverse people within the beauty industry. The report encapsulates learnings from the dialogue that took place among 200 roundtable attendees consisting of a mix of youth and Elders, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Afro-Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ (MMIWG) Calls for Justice, noted the importance of having media outlets and corporations ensure authentic and appropriate representations of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Inaccurate portrayals that perpetuate stereotypes and discrimination cause further harm and violence, and work to uphold the ongoing genocide of MMIWG2S, according to the Inquiry report.

“Colonial beauty standards are still prominent in the media,” says Lynne Groulx, NWAC CEO. “This is why NWAC is determined to change the narrative–uplifting the diversity and beauty of Indigenous languages, cultures and identities. Fostering a more inclusive community where healing and expression of individual experiences is embraced is so important. It was truly inspiring to hear from the participants of this national roundtable.”

The findings of the report focus on how a more inclusive, equitable and representative beauty industry that reflects the true diversity of Indigenous communities across Canada can be fostered. The report and recommendations are especially critical for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people seeking healing from the intergenerational traumas of colonization, including the abuses of the Residential School system and the violence that has led to a disproportionate number of murders and disappearances within Indigenous communities.

During the roundtable, perspectives and experiences were shared and distilled into three core recommendations for how to authentically represent Indigenous beauty in mainstream media, moving forward. These recommendations include:

1.    Representation of Indigenous beauty must encompass the diversity of Indigenous cultures and experiences: Participants expressed an overwhelming call for more diversity and inclusion in future campaigns, including First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Inuit, Afro-Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. They also want to see varying ages, body shapes, lived-experiences and skin tones.

2.    We must see Indigenous beauty, in all its beauty respected and honoured: Participants expressed in the future they wish to see Indigenous stories told with respect, including respect of colonial history and the inclusion of diverse Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ cultures and identities.

3.    We must see increased representation of beauty in the media: Throughout the roundtable, there was demand to see more varied Indigenous stories and representation, as well as increased inclusion of 2SLGBTQQIA+ experiences.

As part of this report, NWAC and Sephora Canada have committed to continue to welcome and facilitate conversations to engage deeper dialogue surrounding Indigenous beauty. NWAC is also committed to continued Elder-led programming through the Resiliency Lodge, fostering healing by addressing the harm done by colonization and colonial beauty standards.

“The roundtable was humbling, vulnerable and powerful, helping Sephora Canada to better understand what is needed from organizations to be catalysts for change in the beauty industry,” said Salma Dhanani, Senior Manager, Inclusion & Belonging, Sephora Canada. “As leaders in the beauty community, it is our responsibility to ensure we are listening and actioning these recommendations in all areas of our business. We have been on a Diversity & Inclusion journey for years; we continue to learn from and lean into our community partners and are committed to playing an active role in reconciliation.”

Indigenous representation remains central to Sephora Canada’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts, alongside a commitment to ensuring all Canadians see themselves reflected at Sephora. The retailer will work in lockstep with NWAC to ensure these recommendations remain at the core of its mission to inspire and cultivate a more inclusive beauty community for consumers, employees and in the communities they serve.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with an NWAC representative, contact: Gloria Galloway at gloria@gloriagalloway.com || 613-447-6648

To arrange an interview with a Sephora Canada representative, contact: Laura Linden at laura.linden@wearemiddlechild.com || 647-207-6608