Otahpiaaki 2017

15 Nations | 3 Runways

Truth . Youth . Reconciliation

Otahpiaaki is a social innovation project based at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. Each year, Otahpiaaki hosts our Indigenous Beauty, Fashion and Design Week, featuring some of our region's most inspiring Indigenous artists, designers, and creatives. We believe that the work of reconciliation is for neighbours and that important conversations and teachings can be shared through creative and artistic practices.

Beyond Fashion Week, Otahpiaaki student teams research and co-create opportunities for development -- design, business operations, or social enterprise ideas, with the intent to promote, connect, and protect each unique collection. Over the next seven years, our goal is to contribute to significant social, cultural, restorative, and economic impact across reserves, communities, regions, and territories by providing resources and capacity-building. We emphasize explorations of deep beauty, bold Nation-to-Nation exchange, enhanced industrial design policy and law, and new routes to global markets. We are in search of wise practices and excellence. We work with humility.

Aspiring designers, youth, students, and community members are invited to engage with diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis creative champions whose work is inspired by ancestors, traditions, language, land, image, music and culture. Join us in establishing a fresh national fashion, artisitic and creative identity on the world stage.

A Greeting From Our Elder


Niitsiikohtaahsitaak Ni no’ohk Ohko’tsitssspomissta’shs annohk aamo Otahpiaakii. Niitspomowiyaiamoksi aissksinima’tssa asitapiiks kii otaissksinima’stoki aaki. Anoom O’mahkitaissksima’tstahkio’p, iikstaiya mukko ostistapistimya Kaanai’sitapii o’paitapisinni.

Kimmooksi Ni’taispomowiya a’kohko’tsiik Itapso’kapi Ma Otapi’ssinni Assaiyaa’ak o’ttsisstapitsim Kaanaistitapi’ o’paitapisinni, a’kohko’tsiiinni’yimmokiyiwaa . Iiksoka’pii.

Pooksinawaakii (Little Chief Woman)

Piikani/ Aakainawa (Kainai)


Greetings to All.

This is (Little Chief Woman), Jeannie Smith-Davis. I am from the Lone Fighters Clan of the Piikani. I married my husband (Many Offerings) Wesley Davis, and through this transferred into the Fish Eaters Clan from Akainai.

I am very honored to have been asked to be part of the consultation with the Otahpiaaki Project. I consulted with the students and their teacher Patricia May-Derbyshire from Mount Royal University – the Bissett School of Business, on their desire to understand Indigenous ways so that they, in turn, would transfer this knowledge in a respectful way through the Otahpiaaki Project. It is good.

Jeannie Smith-Davis

Piikani/ Aakainawa (Kainai)

B.A., B. Ed., M. Ed. (Cultural Consultant)

Otahpiaaki is a gesture and expression of reconciliation

The project was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and their 94 Calls to Action to advance the process of reconciliation and redress the legacy of residential schools.

We thank Spirit River L. Striped Wolf for naming this project in 2016 when it was founded, and for sharing and leading our vision that the work of reconciliation is for neighbors. In his own words, "This is about Indigenous Artists becoming economic leaders in Canadian Society. This is about Indigenous Artists becoming their own and owning what's theirs. This is about activism and reconciliation."

We also acknowledge and thank Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson, Chief Wilton Littlechild and are humbled by those impacted by residential schools and their legacy who gave statements and who continue to share the truth of the legacies of colonization and oppression in Canada.