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Dene Divas was founded in 2021 with the intention of bringing awareness to Dene culture, and more importantly, to showcasing Dene resilience.
The business started out as a small dream catcher hobby, but after weaving hundreds of dream catchers, the owners realized a real business had been created amidst their crafting. Dene Divas was incorporated in the summer of 2021, and from there the company quickly grew into a unique brand identity recognized by many across Alberta. To achieve growth so rapidly within the first year of start-up, family was key.
Dene Divas is 100% family-ran by the McKay matriarchy. The 'Divas' of the business are a mother/daughter trio, Barbara McKay, and her two daughters, Vanessa & Paige. Together they have created a modern, self-care brand that both honors and embodies traditional indigenous practices.
Throughout the first year of operations, a lot of growth and learning occurred. Dene Divas attended dozens of artisan markets across Alberta, they partnered with a handful of retail stores to sell directly to customers, and they introduced over 30 new products to their line-up of offerings. This family-rooted company has proven that hard work, dedication, and trusting in your unseen ancestors, can create endless possibilities for growth.
Originating from Rocher River, NWT, Dene Divas are Dene-Chipewyan by birthright; although due to colonialization, their family now calls Edmonton & Area home. As Status-Indian, Treaty 8 descendants from the Deninu K'ue First Nations band, Dene Divas are extremely passionate about sharing their Northern Dene heritage and culture with everyone they meet.
Marie McKay, their late mother/grandmother, was Dene Divas' main connection to their isolated homeland in the Northwest Territories. Although she was not able to share with them all of the teachings from the North before her passing, she inspired her family every day to pursue their dreams knowing that resourcefulness and resilience are embedded in their Dene blood.
McKay genes have been made strong by the impact of residential school/60's scoop traumas, but their family has proven that adversity breeds character, integrity, and resilience. You can learn more about Dene Divas' awareness-building, charitable achievements in Charitable Contributions.
In true Dene fashion, by sharing the teachings of the land and of the people, resilience flourishes.