mcdonalds cups

Toronto artist designs new McDonald's cups honouring Indigenous culture

McDonald's Canada has finally rolled out this season's festive holiday cups, and if you grab a coffee from the chain in the near future, you may just want to take a closer look at the imagery on them, which was actually designed in part by a local artist.

Indigenous elder and creator Philip Cote III, who is from Moose Deer Point First Nation in Muskoka, Ontario, and whose work is already featured in murals around the city of Toronto, was tapped by the fast food giant to help consult on this year's iteration of the annual cup design, which comes out each winter just before the holidays.

The renderings produced by commercial artists are rich with Indigenous symbolism from across Canada, and include depictions of medicine wheels, toboggans, the Northern Lights, local fauna and more.

Perennial birds familiar to Ontarians, such as Blue Jays and Cardinals, can be spotted in pattern, as can a white deer and white polar bear with a heart, which represent an Anishinaabe prophecy about the sharing of sacred knowledge.

"It's the white bear who shows us the trail used by our ancestors," Cote, who donated all of his fees as cultural advisor for the project to the Native Men's Residence in Vaughan, writes in an Instagram post about the pieces.

He called the collaboration a way to share "a sprinkling" of Indigenous identity in a place where "everyone can see and learn" when speaking about the new cups to APTN News this week, adding that "it's about understanding and it's about equal opportunity to have a voice out there."

Cote isn't the only local who's had a part — or is at least trying to have a part — in Canada's fast food cup design lately, either.

Peterborough, Ontario artist Jason Wilkins is pitching a very inspiring and Toronto-esque new cup design to Tim Horton's, featuring imagery of the C.N. Tower and positive messages like "strength in community" and "donut give up!"

Lead photo by


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