Indigenous Canadian Business
Shades of Gray is a 100% women owned and operated First Nation Business, certified by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Owner and Founder
Keri Gray is the Owner of Shades of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats Co. She is a proud First Nation woman and a member of the Alqonquins of Pikwakanagan. She is the mother to two beautiful young ladies who she is raising as members of Alderville First Nation. Keri has worked many years on and off the reserve providing services the people of the reserve in the form of education, employment, and finance.
Keri grew up in Lakefield, Ontario on a farm, where she later helped her parents run a butcher shop. She worked both on the farm and in the shop all through high school. Before starting Shades of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats Co Keri attended the University of Manitoba obtaining a degree Agriculture. After university she attended Red River College and completed their business program and thereafter returned to Ontario, where she worked at the Metis Nation of Ontario in Toronto at Trent University in an administrative capacity for the Indigenous Studies Department for 9 years.
Following the birth of her children, Keri took a position on the reserve for Alderville First Nation as the Learning Centre Coordinator. Through perseverance and hard work, she became involved with her partner Brian in building their farm business. Her daughters’ medical conditions necessitated the need to learn organic and high-quality healthy food growing techniques, and processes to grow meat that they could eat.
The Farm, Shades of Gray Rabbitry, was started back in 2012 just for the Gray family. In a few years it had grown to support local chefs, grocery stores, butcher shops and friends who also wished to eat more healthily or offer such options to their respective clients.
The human food market led to a lot of waste animal meat being disposed of which violated Keri’s heritage philosophy of using all of an animal’s sacrifice. It was at this point that Keri had the ingenious idea of making pet treats for her own pets, which later led to family and friends wanting treats as well.
Keri did her research, took courses, becoming a Certified Raw Nutrition Specialist. She initially tested the market at local events, dog shows etc. Folks were interested and loved how their humane animal wellness centric approach to farming, and of course the quality of the Treats.
In 2019, Shades of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats Co. was registered with the intention to bring healthy treats to pets all over Canada while still holding onto the core Aboriginal principles which Keri holds so dear to her heart.
“What sets us apart is our high Quality, Federally Inspected meat and absolutely No Antibiotics. Our treats are balanced as nature intended for our pets, no additives needed!”
Keri is a firm believer in the value of education and empowerment for Aboriginal people, women and the youth. Teaching her daughters that, despite struggles such as food allergies, we can learn from our challenges and deliver back, to the Canadian people, such lessons as wellness through healthy food and proper use of the land on which we live, as has been the way of the First Nation People since time in memorial.
Keri continues to be a leader and innovator among the Canadian First Nation community and is actively involved with several organizations and committees, including the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce as a Board Member.
It is my hope that I can share my knowledge, love and passion for our culture and our people with the people of Canada and help improve the future of our youth.
The Algonquin philosophy is to only take what you need; give in order to receive; recognize that you are an equal part of all that is; be thankful for everything that you get. It is encouraged that each person develops their own special relationship with the Creator. It is this difference, this uniqueness with the Creator that creates meaning for the Algonquin Peoples.
The Abishinabe Way to Live
A Short History of the Algonquin of Pikwakanagan
Archaeological information indicates that Algonquin people have lived in the Ottawa Valley for at least 8,000 years before the Europeans arrived in North America. They were a tribe of peoples that, by the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1603, was well established as experts in hunting, tracking, and usage/ creation of fur products. They had a rich and vibrant culture and fully developed language unique to them.
In 1610, Algonquin guides accompanied Étienne Brûlé on his voyages to the interior of Canada.
It was the start of deep involvement by the Algonquins with the French in the fur trade. Every fur trader, who hoped to be successful in exploring the interior of Canada, prepared for the journey by familiarizing himself with the Algonquin language, since it was recognized as the root language for many other Aboriginal languages.
Furs from the Great Lakes flowed down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers to the French during the years that followed, and the Algonquins and their allies dominated the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys, holding back the Iroquois tribes from their lands with the help of French aid. However, the Iroquois tribes remained a constant threat, and in winning the trade and friendship of the Algonquins, the French had made a dangerous enemy for themselves.
By 1630 both the Algonquins and Montagnais needed French help to fight the invader, but this was not available. Taking advantage of a European war between Britain and France, Sir David Kirke captured Quebec in 1629, and the British held Canada until 1632 when it was returned to France by the Treaty of St. Germaine en Laye.
These three years were a disaster for the French allies. Since their own trade with the Dutch was not affected, the Iroquois were able to reverse their losses of territory in the St. Lawrence Valley. They drove the Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence.
In 1632, the French attempted to restore the previous balance of power along the St. Lawrence by providing firearms to their Algonquin and Montagnais allies. However, the initial sales were restricted to Christian converts which did not confer any real advantage to the Algonquin. The roving Algonquin bands had proven resistant to initial missionary efforts.
The Dutch had reacted to the French arming their native allies with large sales of firearms to the Mohawks, who passed these weapons along to the other Iroquois, and the fur trade degenerated into an arms race. After seven years of increasing violence, a peace was arranged in 1634.
Iroquois offensives, during 1636 and 1637, drove the Algonquins farther north into the upper Ottawa Valley and forced the Montagnais east towards Quebec. Only a smallpox epidemic, which began in New England during 1634 and then spread to New York and the St. Lawrence Valley, slowed the fighting.
By the spring of 1642, the Mohawks and their allies had succeeded in completely driving many groups of Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence and lower Ottawa Rivers.
The French in 1642 established a new post at Montreal (Ville Marie). However, this only seemed to make matters worse. The Iroquois soon sent war parties north into the Ottawa Valley to attack the Huron and Algonquin canoe fleets transporting fur to Montreal and Quebec.
After two years of failed diplomacy, the Iroquois resorted to total war, but this time with the assurance that the French would remain neutral. The Mohawks almost exterminated a large group of Algonquin near Trois Rivieres in 1647.
The Iroquois overran and destroyed the Hurons. During 1650, the remaining Algonquins in the upper Ottawa Valley were attacked and overrun. The Algonquins that remained fled into the headwaters of the tributary rivers.
The arrival of regular French troops in Quebec that year and their subsequent attacks on villages in the Iroquois homeland brought a lasting peace in 1667. This permitted many of the remaining Algonquins to begin a gradual return to the Ottawa Valley. But lead to much conversion to Christianity and degradation of their culture.
The Algonquins remained important French allies until the French and Indian War (1755-63).
In mid-August of 1760, the Algonquins and eight other former French allies met with the British representative, Sir William Johnson, and signed a treaty in which they agreed to remain neutral in futures wars between the British and French.
The Algonquins fought alongside the British during the American Revolution (1775-83) participating in St. Leger’s campaign in the Mohawk Valley in 1778. The Algonquin homeland was supposed to be protected from settlement by the Proclamation of 1763, but after the revolution ended in a rebel victory, thousands of British Loyalists left the new United States and settled in Upper Canada.
To provide land for these newcomers, the British government in 1783 chose to ignore the Algonquins in the lower Ottawa Valley and purchased parts of eastern Ontario from Mynass, a Mississauga (Ojibwe) chief. Despite this, Algonquin warriors fought beside the British during the War of 1812 (1812-14) and helped defeat the Americans at the Battle of Chateauguay. Their reward for this service was the continued loss of their land to individual land sales and encroachment by British immigrants moving into the valley.
The worst blow occurred when the British, in 1822, were able to induce the Mississauga near Kingston on Lake Ontario to sell most of what remained of the traditional Algonquin land in the Ottawa Valley. And for a second time, no one bothered to consult the Algonquin who had never surrendered their claim to the area but still received nothing from its sale.
Further losses occurred during the 1840s as lumber interests moved into the Upper Ottawa Valley. Legislation in 1850 and purchases by the Canadian government eventually established nine reserves in Quebec. A tenth in Ontario was established in 1873 at Golden Lake (now known as Pikwàkanagàn ) for Algonquin use and occupation. These reserves only secured a tiny portion of what once had been the original homeland of the Algonquins.
Today the Algonquins continue to live on the Ottawa River and its tributaries predominantly in the reserves allocated to them by the Canadian government.
Special thanks to https://www.tanakiwin.com/algonquins-of-ontario/our-proud-history/ for the exerts of copy which for the basis of the above short history. Should you wish to learn more about our history please click the link above or reach out to https://www.algonquinsofpikwakanagan.com/