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People Doing Cool Stuff: Shyra Barberstock of Kebaonish

People Doing Cool Stuff: Shyra Barberstock

Get to know Shyra Barberstock, Co-founder, President & CEO of Kebaonish Inc., an Indigenous coffee and tea company headquartered in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

Interview by Jack McAvoy

Read time: 4 min

For those who may not be familiar, tell us a bit about Kebaonish and what you’re all about.
Kebaonish is an Indigenous- and woman-led coffee and tea company that celebrates the warm-hearted feeling of returning home—back to your community, family, friends, and most importantly, to yourself. Our name embodies this philosophy of reconnection, emphasizing interconnection and the sharing of stories. Committed to sustainable practices and honouring our heritage, we source our products based on ecological knowledge and ethical standards. Engaging with Kebaonish means not just enjoying a beverage but participating in a journey that supports communities and fosters a deeper connection to the earth, celebrating the stories that connect us all.

What inspired you to delve into the world of tea and coffee?
Tea and coffee have always been a passion of mine. When I think of drinking a cup of tea or coffee, I always think about family, friends, and community because we naturally share stories when we are together. I also think of the warmth of tea and coffee—it is comforting and, in some cases, healing—like a hug in a mug. I also think about mindfulness—just being and drinking tea/coffee. Launching Kebaonish provided an opportunity for me to share my passion of tea and coffee, along with my passion for community building and sharing great stories. It has given me a sense of purpose. Although entrepreneurship can be challenging at times, it is also a great adventure! I am fortunate to have a wonderful co-founder team who are all talented, good people. They make the adventure worthwhile.

Kebaonish co-founder team (from left to right): Michael Carrick, Shyra Barberstock, Barry Hillier, John Snell, Ryan Barberstock.

 The Anishinaabe concept of Mino-Bimaadiziwin and the Haudenosaunee principle of Ka’nikonhrí:yo seem significant to Kebaonish. Could you elaborate on these and how they tie into Kebaonish?
The Anishinaabe principle of Mino-Bimaadiziwin means “living the good life,” and the Haudenosaunee principle of Ka’nikonhrí:yo means “the good mind.” These principles inspire our Kebaonish philosophy, which is to “bring people together over coffee or tea to share our stories and promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” 

These Anishinaabe/Haudenosaunee principles also inspired our product line. For example, our tea line is inspired by the Seven Grandfather Teachings of the Anishinaabe: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.

As an Anishinaabe-Kwe (Anishinaabe woman), Mino-Bimaadiziwin emphasizes not only personal well-being but also the importance of community building. Living a good life involves uplifting others. At Kebaonish, as our company expands, we continually consider how many Indigenous artists we can support and promote alongside our growing brand awareness. We often say at Kebaonish, “A rising tide lifts all canoes,” reflecting our commitment to collective success.

As an Indigenous-led company with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous co-founders, do you feel like you are contributing to economic reconciliation?
My partner, Rye Barberstock, and I are the Indigenous co-founders of Kebaonish. I am Anishinaabe and French and a member of Kebaowek First Nation. Rye is Haudenosaunee and a member of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. Together, we own 71% of Kebaonish. Our non-Indigenous co-founders include Barry Hillier, John Snell, and Michael Carrick.

In alignment with the principles of economic reconciliation, our co-founders are committed to bridging economic disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Our collaborative efforts serve as an exemplary model for fostering positive interactions and mutual benefits. Specifically, our company dedicates a portion of its profits to Indigenous communities, supporting vital initiatives such as the revitalization of Indigenous languages and cultures, as well as promoting Indigenous arts. This investment not only contributes to the preservation and celebration of rich cultural heritages but also reinforces our dedication to sustainable and inclusive economic practices. Through these actions, we are actively participating in a broader movement towards economic equity and cultural respect.

You can read more about our dedication to economic reconciliation here.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned so far that you would share with other entrepreneurs?
One of the nice things about entrepreneurship is the opportunity to set your own schedule and to set your own pace; however, it is also one of the detriments. It is easy to fall into a habit of overworking, which can result in burnout. In business, everything can seem urgent, and it takes discipline to take time for self-care and to nurture other hobbies and passions outside of work. It’s also important to make time for the people that you love outside of business.

How do you like to spend your days off?
Outside of business, I am a musician and aspiring writer. I enjoy playing the piano and guitar, as well as singing. This year, I began learning the cello. My writing spans speculative fiction, children’s books, and poetry. I also love travelling with my husband and delighting in the quirks and antics of my Yorkie pup, Maya Megatron.

Photo by Karen Martin
Kebaonish headquarters with their full lineup of teas on display

What are you and Kebaonish up to in ‘24 that we should look forward to?
Last year, we launched our Kebaonish e-commerce website. This year, we’re thrilled to expand our operations through key partnerships with retailers and collaborative relationships with businesses and academic institutions. Additionally, we have some exciting plans in the works, including special events and new products. Stay tuned and follow us on social media to keep up to date with our announcements.

Lastly, how can we purchase your products?
Kebaonish coffee and tea can be purchased on our website at

Keep up with the latest and follow Kebaonish on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok.

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The Bay of Quinte RMB Land Acknowledgement

The Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board is committed to acknowledging, appreciating and understanding the Indigenous peoples’ historic connection to this land and to raising awareness by building relationships in collaboration with Indigenous partners and communities. 

We recognize and acknowledge that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Mississauga, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee which includes the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte) with whom we work in direct partnership with. 

This partnership focuses on the common goal of celebrating the region with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka who are equal partners within the organization and at the Board of Directors table contributing to the mandate and operations.

This mandate includes listening to, learning from, and collaborating with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka and actively incorporating their culture and heritage into the practice of responsible destination marketing and management of the region.

We understand that this land acknowledgement is only a small step towards the larger process of reparations and reconciliation.

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