Christine Marie

Pivoting Towards Pride: Former Teacher Christine Marie Founds Awasis Boutique

“Sometimes there's pivots, and they can throw you for a loop. But I feel like sometimes those pivots can be one of the best things that ever happened to us. And that's truly the story of Awasis Boutique,” explains Christine Marie, who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where she was born and raised by her  Métis single mother. Her dad has Filipino ancestry but she didn’t grow up with him or learn his culture. Now a mother herself, she’s raising two young boys while building a business. That business was a pivot from the path she was once on, one that has changed her family’s life. 

A teacher by trade, she was encouraged by one of high school teachers to pursue post-secondary after graduation, something that wasn’t common in her family. Not feeling smart enough, Marie was reluctant but her teacher challenged the assumptions she had about herself and encouraged her that she could get a degree if she wanted to. 

From there, she explored university programs, applied, worked hard and graduated with honours. She learned about the history of Métis people and her worldview shifted. “I felt this sense for the first time in my life, and I was 19, I don't have to be ashamed anymore of being an Indigenous person. I've got so much rich history,” Marie recalls. It’s something she shares now in her professional life. 

For three years, she taught teenagers and loved it. When she started her own family, she stayed home with her kids for five years. Not quite ready to jump back into the workforce, Marie wondered what she could do online from home when her kids were napping. That’s when the idea of Awasis Boutique came to life, when she realized there were no Indigenous-inspired baby and kids apparel lines in Western Canada. She started one herself. 

In creating an e-commerce shop, she could meet the demand for products for the entire family while raising her own. She loves to create products that instill cultural pride in young Indigenous children, something she didn’t have herself growing up. With her clothing line, she’s creating the change she wants to see in the world. 

While owning a business lets her set her hours and be her own boss, she is quick to point out that it’s not easy. There is a lot of hard work and a big learning curve that never stops. Setting boundaries to balance the role of mom and business owner is something that Marie has had to do, especially on social media and email as part of a 24/7 online world. She’s learned she has to protect her peace and that of her family to avoid burnout. 

Armed with an agenda, a to-do list and a plan, she does what she can working part-time hours. Soon she will be moving up to full-time but when she’s not working, Marie’s focused on her kids. To take care of herself, Marie exercises self-compassion, works out at the gym, goes for massages, takes baths and goes for coffee to treat herself. As someone who is not a morning person, she savours her sleep. Spending time reading is another delight and she tries to turn off her tech an hour before bed to get settled down for sleep. Celebrating big milestones is important to her, as well as gratitude and reflection. 

“This is who I am, this is who I was created to be.”

If she could give a message to her younger self it would be to be proud of who she is, something she’s working to instill in her boys. Marie wishes she had grown up with that kind of confidence. Her kids inspire her in her work and make her want to keep growing, too. When she was younger, her favourite song was Heal The World by Michael Jackson and the lyrics about making the world a better place motivate her to reflect on how she can leave the world a better place for her children and future generations and what mark she can leave here. 

Having conversations around apparel is something she finds rewarding, thinking back to her first powwow when people were laughing at her “Bannock Baby” shirts. The humour and joy left her craving more of that energy. What she wants people to know about her business is that while she might be the face and the voice of the brand, it’s been the community that has created the business’ success in getting the message, stories and education out. Marie is filled with gratitude for everyone who has been a part of the journey. 

Her advice to young Indigenous people who want to pursue their dreams is that if they feel a calling, have specific gifts and talents to try things, look into opportunities and go for it. She’s excited to see what will come from brilliant, creative Indigenous youth and she hopes they take whatever the first step is into their journey. She recommends looking for supportive organizations that can help along the way and that Indigenous dreamers keep moving forward. 

Over the years, Christine Marie has learned that while sometimes in life there are pivots that can throw us through a loop, sometimes they are the best things that ever happened to us. In creating Awasis Boutique, she was able to pivot towards parenting and cultural pride, giving her children and others something she never had: the wisdom that they are enough just as they are. 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
  • Province/Territory
  • Date
    February 2, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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