Indigenous entrepreneur and designer Brenda Dragon will share her work replacing single-use products and fast fashion in an upcoming speaker series with CFUW Aurora/Newmarket.
Dragon is the founder of Aurora Heat in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. The Chipewyan Dene entrepreneur started the company in 2015 making unique hand and foot warmers from fur inspired by a deep family history of trapping.
“Our family tree is full of trappers — my grandparents, my parents, and, as it turns out, my daughter and her partner are trapping in the Fort Smith area. It’s a deep part of who we are as northern people,” she said.
Leaning into the practicality of fur for warmth, she uses fur sheared from beavers to create handmade patches. These are reusable and last for years to replace one-time hand warmers packaged in plastic that only last a couple hours.
“I dream of a world where humans are thoughtful about meeting basic needs, using natural and reusable products. A world where natural fur is the first choice for warmth, replacing single-use products, fast fashion, and synthetic/petroleum-based materials,” she said.
Aurora Heat's slogan is live in harmony with nature, and Dragon embodies that in the work she does.
"I am committed to nature and value the inter-dependency between all living things. I love designing and creating sustainable, new-to-market products. In our workshop at the end of each day, there is no garbage in our bin. We use all parts of our pelts in deep respect and gratitude to the land and to the beaver," she said.
She will be giving a virtual presentation on her work and sustainability at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 as part of the Canadian Federation of University Women Aurora/Newmarket's speaker series.
Women in the community are invited to attend the virtual presentation and can contact [email protected] for more information.
The speaker series runs monthly from September to April, and includes four more presenters this year. Amina Mohamed from Camera for Girls will speak in February, followed by Jason Alderson of Mental Health First Aid in March, and Dorothy Mazeu will speak about Golden Girls home sharing in April.