My name is Jackie Esquimaux Hamlin and I am an Anishnawbekwe from Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation on the Manitoulin Island. 

The journey starts after finishing Secondary school in northern Ontario. Upon graduation, I made the decision to travel to what I felt was the Hollywood of Canada, the big sparkling city known as Toronto. 

When I arrived, I found a connection with the Indigenous community there and spent my time working with them. Through this initial contact I was offered a scholarship to attend college in the field of Early Childhood Education. 

Using what I learned from completing the program, I continued my involvement with the Indigenous community by working as an educator in the First Indigenous Daycare. This daycare was considered the first culturally appropriate childcare Centre in an urban environment away from a reserve which was seen as a significant achievement and step for the urban (off-reserve) Indigenous families and educators.

As I spent more time with Toronto’s diverse population, an opportunity appeared at University of Toronto to join the team at First Nations House (FNH) as a Resource Centre Coordinator / Librarian where I worked until I retired.

It was during those years when I had opportunities to travel with my husband Brian, that we decided to open a business. We named the new venture Red Sky Candles. During our travels we spent a lot of time at a certain community in Mexico, known for its spectacular sunsets which turned the sky a beautiful hue of crimson red. That unforgettable sight was etched into our minds forever.

Brian has continued to be involved with the Indigenous community but his involvement with the beekeeping community in Toronto and Peterborough area, promotion of pollinator awareness, and environmental sustainability were and continue to be the momentum that motivates our business forward.

As a family business we encouraged our grandson, Jaden, to join us at an early age. Over the years his continued involvement has been a positive benefit for us all. However, since Jaden is now working to complete his university degree and commercial pilot license (CPL) his availability has lessened. Therefore, we have started to encourage our granddaughter Jada to join us at various venues we are involved in.   

Apart from the natural honey the bees have produced we have created a variety of specially infused honeys using cedar, sage, birch, cranberries and other herbs and spices. Our main product, the creative 100% beeswax candles and beeswax art themes are inspired by nature seasonal celebrations, and cross-cultural interests. 

It is our hope that through our work, we can raise awareness of pollinators and sustainability with Indigenous communities internationally.