Founder Interview - Justin Langan
Can you Introduce yourself?
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but my family moved to the rural prairie community of Swan River, Manitoba when I was very young. Growing up I was surrounded by my Métis culture, whether that be through music or dance, or activities put on at my local friendship centre. Some of my hobbies included making silly videos, playing hockey and soccer, being in band, and acting on stage.
What got you involved in Indigenous advocacy?
I started volunteering with the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) on the Northwest Youth Advisory Committee in 2015. My participation consisted of volunteering at community events, serving Elders, and advocating for better youth programs and involvement. That really lit a spark in me to embrace my own heritage in the pursuit of doing good in the world, so I became far more involved in volunteering in any way I can. I sat on the MMF Provincial Youth Advisory Committee, RCMP Youth Advisory Council, and various other committees. But my main goal in everything I do is to inspire and involve other Indigenous youth, whether that be through newsletters, volunteering, activism, advocacy, or art.
Why did you create O'KANATA Apparel?
There are many reasons how O'KANATA Apparel came to fruition, one of them was my own personal struggle with my heritage. I am proud to be Canadian and proud to be Indigenous, but as the years went on, I know I haven't been the only young person questioning their involvement with the history of this country. This is my way of conveying both the colonial and native side of Canada into what I see as O'KANATA.
The second reason was creating a brand that can speak for and highlight Indigenous voices and stories. In the effort of reconciliation, I think one of the best ways to advance dialogue is through transparency and communication. Which is why I want to highlight stories of Indigenous youth doing great things around the country, and to share stories on a national level.
Since the earliest conception of O'KANATA Apparel, I knew I wanted some way to give back to the community. Growing up, scholarships, community-based activities and supports have helped me immensely. That's why 10% of each purchase will go to the O'KANATA Fund, which will be a fund in which Indigenous young people can apply for either scholarship funding, funding for activities to put on in their own community, or anything that will assist Indigenous people.
What does the future of O'KANATA Apparel look like?
Its success will be determined by the people of Canada, but I have high ambitions for future collaborations with young Indigenous artists, models, influencers, for new breathtaking collections. Stay tuned to the O'KANATA Apparel social media for new releases, new collections, and the O'KANATA Fund opening up later this year.
How can people follow your story?
I can be reached on Instagram and Twitter @justinrlangan. Any emails can be sent to Justinrlangan@gmail.com. Thanks so much!