Indigenous Fashion, Beauty, Design Week engages with diverse First Nations, Northern, Inuit, and Métis creative champions whose work is inspired by ancestors, traditions, language, land, and culture. Their talents, creativity, and traditional knowledge blend with contemporary practice in highly engaging fashion, street wear, performances, music, and film.
With appreciation, the team at Otahpiaaki has such gratitude and respect for our opportunity to learn from, interact with, and understand each designers’ and artists’ unique practice.
Algonquin Deer Clan/Toisnot Tuscarora
Carola Jones is an Indigenous teaching artist whose practice explores place and memory through her grandmother’s Algonquin natural dye and textile garden. She describes her love for creating colour and passion for modern quilting as ‘walking out’ her mother’s dying wishes to share stories of survival through plant dying and stitching. Carola is a writer, visual storyteller, dreamer, working traveler, and Pow Wow dancer. From the coastal plains and outer banks of eastern North Carolina, she is a child of the remnant Tuscarora Confederacy known as the Gatekeepers. Her workshop will incorporate Otahpiaaki indigo dye crops from the summer of 2018.
Blackfoot, Kainai Nation
Carol Mason hails from the Blood Tribe and has been designing clothing for approximately 30 plus years. A graduate of the Form & Function Design Academy and part-time student of ACAD, Carol has played an enduring role in Indigenous fashion, creating collections of exquisite Indigenous Fashion Designs of jackets, coats, ribbon shirts, and traditional camp/tea dresses in an everlasting genre of a Cowboy/Indian look. In 1993, she was named as one of Canada’s Top Ten designers, and was presented at the Genie Awards, with a gown designed specifically for Tantoo Cardinal. She has been featured in numerous fashion magazines throughout her career. Today she continues to dabble in her passion on a much lower key. Otahpiaaki is proud to debut Carol’s first collection in 20 years, inspired by her numerous sketchbooks from the past to present in retrospective of her life’s work.
Plains Cree/ Pelican Lake Nation
Helen Oro is the owner and operator of the fashion label Helen Oro Designs Inc. Helen is a Plains Cree from Pelican Lake First Nation. She takes her traditional First Nation beadwork and creates modern accessories and statement pieces that leave lasting impressions. Not only does Helen create one of a kind creations, but she also creates opportunities for Indigenous people aspiring to pursue careers in the fashion/modeling world. Internationally recognized for her designs and work, she is the first First Nation designer to showcase in countries such as Australia, London, and New Zealand. Determined to change mindsets, Helen aims to create a positive image for Indigenous women everywhere.
Cree, Sturgeon Nation
Tala Tootoosis is an emerging, unapologetic fashion activist, poet, and author who wears and makes ribbon skirts to centre herself and others in their cultures. Her skirts are protection and declaratives of women as life creators, sacred, powerful, and independent. Tala is the founder of the Kokum Scarf Campaign that anchors women to their ancestral power and educates about MMIW statistics.
Dene/Cree, English River Nation
Catherine Blackburn was born in Patuanak Saskatchewan, of Dene and European ancestry and is a member of the English River First Nation. Blackburn is a bead artist, painter and jeweler whose common themes address Canada’s colonial past prompted by personal narratives. Her art merges contemporary concepts with elements of traditional Dene culture creating dialogue between traditional art forms and new interpretations of them. She has received numerous accolades including a Governor General History Award, the highly acclaimed Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant, and most recently, the Saskatchewan RBC Emerging Artist Award.
Blackfeet Ampskapi Piikani Nation
John Isaiah Pepion is an artist who hails from the Blackfeet Nation in northern Montana. The art journey has been ceremonial for John as his understanding of his past, family, and culture grows with his work. He descends from Mountain Chief, a Blackfeet leader who preserved history through numerous winter counts. Through art, John finds personal healing and cultural preservation. He speaks with troubled youth in public schools to promote the benefits of art as therapy. John holds formal degrees in Art Marketing and Museum Studies from United Tribes Technical College and the Institute of American Indian Arts, respectively. However, his education continues with every piece he creates and with every story he shares. John incorporates traditional design elements into colorful contemporary illustrations, leaving his work highly recognizable. Most importantly, John’s art deepens his connections to self and place, providing him with a sense of strength.
Dene/Cree, English River Nation
Sage Paul is an urban Dene woman and a member of English River First Nation. Based in Toronto, Sage is an artist, designer and innovative leader for Indigenous fashion, craft and textiles, championing family, sovereignty and resistance for balance. Sage is also a founding collective member and Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. Some of Sage’s art and design has shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, Harbourfront Centre, The Centre for Craft, Creativity and Design (North Carolina, USA), and a curated program at Western Canada Fashion Week by Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective. Sage has presented on Indigenous fashion including at Canada House (London, UK), The Walrus Magazine, Ryerson University, Toronto Women’s Fashion Week and South Africa Fashion Week.
In 2018, one of her fashion pieces “Witigo” (2018) was exhibited in Hot Culture: Indigenous fashion, materials and crafts at Gallery 101 and she presented her most recent collection “Giving Life" at Festival de Mode & Design (Montreal). In 2017, Sage received the Design Exchange RBC Emerging Designer Award in the fashion category, was recognized by Flare Magazine as a top 100 talented & driven Canadian women and was honoured by the Ontario Minister of the Status of Women as a trailblazing woman who is transforming Ontario. Sage sits on the Ryerson School of Fashion Advisory Board and is developing an Indigenous Fashion elective course for George Brown College.
Blackfeet Ampskapi Piikani Nation
Sammy Jo Bird is an accomplished fine artist, emerging designer, decorated Ladies Barrel Racer and All Around Cowgirl from the Blackfeet Reservation, Amsskaapi Pikani Nation. Sammy Jo’s work has been exhibited at the Western Living and Design Show -- paintings, home decor, and, women’s hats and accessories. Her imagery is rich with inspiration from Blackfoot cosmology, the horses and animal relations that are a part of her life, and from her e-il-si, her late grandmother.
Nuxalk & Onondaga Nation
JB the First Lady is a member of the Nuxalk & Onondaga Nations. She is a Vancouver-based hip hop and spoken word artist, beat-boxer, cultural dancer and youth educator. With four studio albums under her belt, JB sees her songs as a way of capturing oral history, and isn’t afraid to write lyrics that speak to challenging subjects like residential schools and missing and murdered indigenous women. Her accolades include the Vancouver Mayor Arts award and the Queen Golden Jubilee award.
Blackfoot, Piikani Nation
Heather Crowshoe is a boldly humble, Couturier Artist. She has deep and abiding roots in the Northern Piikani Nation and is a direct descendant of Brings-Down-The-Sun and of Chief Joseph. She recently established Heather Crowshoe Couture after more than 25 years of creating pow wow regalia and ceremonial clothing for and with her family. Her passion is to reveal the true magnificent essence of each individual through couture clothing as her grandmothers did. She is a student at École Holt Couture - School of Couture Fashion Sewing and Design and constructs her work primarily by hand. She is inspired by the common reverence for the customization, uniqueness, and symbolism found in Haute Couture and traditional Piikani clothing design. Her work is in Western Horse Review, Avenue Calgary Magazine, Pendleton Woolen Mills Blog, and Cowboys and Indians Magazine.
Blackfoot, Piikani Nation
Karli Crowshoe is a mother and creator from the Piikani Nation who started beading when she was 13 years old. Her passion for design and creating was founded in her love for pow wow dancing. Karli began making her own regalia at a young age, guided by basics she had learned from her aunt. Her line, The Chief’s Daughter was born soon after Karli beaded her first hat for her sister, utilizing a family design that had been passed through the women in her family. The Chief’s Daughter is built upon the principles of tradition and storytelling with pieces that are created to last throughout generations. Each piece carries with it a spirit of its own, created with purpose and meaning. Karli credits her grandfather Reg Crowshoe and her family legacy as a guiding force for her creations, marrying Niitsitapii ways of knowing with the modern indigenous lifestyle.
Nakota, White Bear Nation
Shana Pasapa is an award-winning athlete, MMA fighter, jiujitsu competitor and a CBC Future 40 2015 recipient. She draws strength and inspiration from her Nakota roots, including hunting moose with her uncle. Originally from the White Bear First Nation, Shana founded Power Our Women (POW) to meet other women and girls and help them rediscover the power they already have inside themselves through self-defence, physical health, and discovering their inner strength. Shana is currently working with other language keepers in Nakota, Cree and Saulteaux to create self defence videos and instruction in the languages of these territories, including deafPOW for the deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing.
Maskwacis, Samson Cree Nation
Day One aka Christopher “Day One” Carlson is an independent First Nations artist from Maskwacis, Samson First Nation. A-1 since Day One, Chris has established himself as a creator with the ability to display his passion for indigenous culture while blending it with modern hip-hop symbolism. His live painting displays have been a popular attraction at hip hop shows and public events, gaining him respect from not only fans, but touring artists and organizers alike. Day One will be live daily at Otahpiaaki.
Ojibwe/Anishnaabe, Curve Lake Nation
Jaymie Campbell is Anishinaabe from Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario. In 2015, Jaymie launched White Otter Design Co, to incorporate her love of traditional artistry with contemporary fashion. Artists run in Jaymie’s family, and it is an important connection to her ancestry. She is an avid outdoorswoman, paddler, traveler and photographer. Her work is also influenced with the time she has spent with the Cree people of the Rocky Mountains and the Dene of the North. She owes great gratitude to the Cree elders who have taught and continue to teach the old ways which inspire much of her work. Jaymie wants to inspire young people to know you can be athletic and artsy, scientific and spiritual, and a warrior and an artist. She uses authentic materials in all of the work, and you will often see the use of hand tanned hides, horse hair and porcupine quills. Much of the material is sourced from local communities and elders, though Jaymie puts a strong focus on learning the traditional skills in order to use them in her work and pass them down to future generations.
Maskwacis, Samson Cree First Nation
Justin Louis is the co-founder of SECTION 35, a designer and artist based on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories in Vancouver, British Columbia. Justin grew up on the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. The brand Section 35 is inspired by the Canadian Constitution Act (1982) which affirms and recognizes Indigenous and treaty rights in Canada. Section 35 is a clothing company based on the foundation of truth. It is designed to be a medium for change while creating fashion with a purpose by creating constructive dialogue and awareness on issues impacting Indigenous peoples. Justin has collaborated with many artists and other Indigenous entrepreneurs including Blaire Russell, Nahko Bear, Drezus, Monique Aura, Carrielynn Victor, Iskwé, Revolutions Per Minute and Santiago X.
Cree, Whitefish Nation
Derek Jagodzinsky is the founder and creative visionary behind LUXX Ready-to-Wear. Derek grew up in High Prairie, originally from Whitefish Lake First Nation. Today, LUXX is a fashion and lifestyle venture based in Edmonton, Alberta that designs sophisticated, sleek, and polished garments, blending inspirations from land and language with modern ready-to-wear for the urban landscape. Derek holds a Masters in Industrial Design from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design. His designs have been featured in the Native Fashion Now exhibit that toured throughout the United States, with the finale at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. His collaboration with the visual artist Aaron Paquette will be a permanent exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum.
Blackfoot, Piikani/Kainai Nation
Tobi Naatoyitapiaak Davis-Eagle Speaker (Holy Spirit Woman) is a Nitsitapiaaki (Blackfoot Woman) of the Kainai and Piikani First Nations in southern Alberta. She is the Owner/Designer of Maatsowakii -‘Pretty Woman’ Creations, a home based business. She creates traditional Blackfoot designs in a variety of homemade beaded earrings, necklaces, hats, watches, moccasins, purses, ribbon skirts and shirts. Her work depicts and blends age-old designs of mountains, fauna, and colour predominant in Blackfoot Territory into contemporary and modern apparel. Her designs tell stories of sceneries rich in Blackfoot history, with commentary on how the landscape is increasingly being depleted by pollution and resource development.
Blackfoot, Piikani/Kainai Nation
Jamie Ahksistowaki Medicine Crane (Brave Woman), the creative force behind the clothing line Brave Woman Eco-Designs, is an activist, advocate, educator and artist who has made an indelible impression on the way education is delivered to Indigenous communities. She promotes Indigenous rights, women’s rights, human rights and justice and is celebrated for her work and leadership on the Idle No More movement, Sisters in Spirit, and Walking With Our Sisters rallies that raise awareness of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. In 2017, Ms. Medicine Crane was recognized by the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association as Alumna of the Year. Jamie was the first Indigenous woman to compete in Miss Universe Canada (2003), she received the title Miss Blackfoot Canada, and founded Niitsitapi Dreams (Blackfoot, meaning, “the real people”), a holistic modeling school designed to build girls’ self-esteem and leadership skills.
Peepeekisis Cree-Métis, Flying Dust Nation
Angel Aubichon is a Cree-Metis Designer and the Co-founder of Indi City. She was born and raised in Northern Saskatchewan and attributes her Matriarchal lineage to the inspiration behind her artistic pursuits. In 2017 Aubichon became the first global Indigenous Designer to incorporate wearable technology into traditional regalia. Her piece, a Woman’s Traditional outfit called “ The Matriarch Speaks” exhibited in Calgary, Ottawa and Shenzhen, China. In the same year she graduated from the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Program at St.FX University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. As the Creative Director of SOFIE (Stories of Fashion, Inclusion and Empowerment) a Fashion Technology Nonprofit organization in collaboration with the University of Calgary Department of Computer Science, Aubichon works as an advocate of reconciliation through STEAM education. This years’ collection for Otahpiaaki 2018 is entitled ‘Rebellion,’ and stands as an homage to the roles of Indigenous women throughout history. This innovative infusion joins fashion tech as a juxtaposition styled with contemporary beadwork, up-cycled vintage furs and wool elements. Indi City Rebellion is dedicated to our ancestral Matriarchy as it evokes a blood memory story of power, grace, beauty and resilience.
Maskwacis First Nation
Jesse Gouchey is a muralist, fine artist and emerging designer working with oxidized fibre pieces and streetwear. Jesse creates colourful representations of wildlife and landscape from his imagination and vibrant imagery on murals, commissioned pieces, on canvas, in animation, and photography. Jesse has a deep impact on his audience by addressing social issues in his visual art. He is energized by work with youth and students and shares that his creative activities and artistic practice is a part of his healing.
Blackfoot, Piikani Nation
Serene Ksitiiko’hmaki Weasel Traveller (Thunder Woman) is a fashion designer from the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy. She received her Fashion Design Diploma from the Lethbridge College in 2008 where she was awarded the Best Haute Couture Design. Then she created a successful designer business sewing for clients throughout Alberta and Montana. She is currently finishing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge so she can expand her artistic style and expression other mediums. Her inspiration for her art comes from her traditional Blackfoot worldview and contemporary Indigenous beauty and culture.
Pic River Nation (Panel Host)
Riley Kucheran is a Two-Spirit Ojibway PhD student from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First Nation) studying Indigenous fashion at Ryerson and York University. Kucheran believes fashion will be integral to an Indigenous cultural resurgence and include luxury products and brands. He studies the role of clothing in colonization, and Indigenous fashion as a mobilizer of cultural and economic resurgence. He is an Indigenous Advisor to the Dean and Vice Provost of Graduate Studies at Ryerson, a member of the Aboriginal Education Council and Ryerson Senate, and active participant in the Toronto Indigenous community. He is an active member on Ryerson’s Truth & Reconciliation Strategic Working Committee.
Plains Cree and Métis (Youth Ambassador)
Rae-Anne Harper is one of nine youth leaders selected to participate in Youth Indigenize the Senate 2018. She is the president of the National Association of Friendship Centres Aboriginal Youth Council. Working in Friendship Centres, Rae-Anne has worked for her peers by coordinating youth programs and camps for at-risk urban Indigenous young people, provided workshops on heritage, culture teachings, human rights, Friendship Centre awareness, as well as advocated for Friendship Centre youth at various national conferences and events. Through this experience, she has been inspired to continue working with young people and hopes to have a career within the movement. Rae-Anne hopes to assist in creating more sustainable programming for urban Indigenous youth.
Métis, Matsqui Nation (Youth Ambassador)
Colette Trudeau gave testimony at Youth Indigenize the Senate 2018 in June. She is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation and was born in Matsqui, British Columbia. As the director of youth and Off-Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan (ORAAP) program director for the Métis Nation British Columbia, she works hard to ensure the sustainability of the Métis Nation through youth governance and the creation of effective community-based programs and services. She currently oversees programs and initiatives related to Active Métis Communities, Métis experiences with violence through the Sashing our Warriors campaign and the Métis-ization of post-secondary institutions. She hopes this work will encourage the federal, provincial and municipal governments to recognize the inherent rights of the Métis people under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Moe Clark is a multidisciplinary Métis artist, looping pedal mistress, spoken word poet, educator, artistic producer, public speaker, and activist. A nomadic songbird with wings woven from circle singing and spoken word, she creates sonic landscapes of layered voice that invite audiences into a trance-like space. Her poetic songs soar through these landscapes, with tonal and lyrical resonance. In music collaborations, Moe’s intuitive and sensual approach to vocal improvisation pulls from soul, gospel, folk and spoken word genres. She’s trained with the likes of Rhiannon (Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra), Pura Fé (Ulali) and David Smukler (Linklater approach). Moe will perform excerpts from Feast of the Invisible.
: wîhkohkêwin / ᐄᐧᐦᑯᐦᑫᐃᐧᐣ at Otahpiaaki, her only western date.
Northern Tutchone First Nation
Born and raised in the Yukon, Brenda began as an artist and designer when she was a child with mother and her grandmothers, Thelma Norby (Nee Edzerza), Anges Nieman (Nee Jack), and numerous aunts. Growing up, she was exposed to the sophisticated art of leather work; various concepts for print design, precision machine operation, as well as traditional beading from her community. Designing intricate flowers, symbols, and mixing coloured beads is her passion. Brenda has toured North America showing at various fashion shows including: Couture Fashion Week (Manhattan, New York), National Aboriginal Fashion Week (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Western Canada Fashion Week (Edmonton, Alberta), the Selaska Heritage Celebration (Juneau, Alaska), Tinaa Art Auction (Juneau, Alaska), and at the Adaka Cultural Festival (Whitehorse, Yukon).
Oglala Lakota/Omaha/Dine, Navajo Nation
Naát’áaníí Nez Means is a hip hop artist, Oglala Lakota, Omaha, and Diné, born and raised in Chinle, AZ on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. At 11, Naataanii was writing poetry and involved with music, encouraged by his father Russell Means who transferred his gifts and legacies of activism and achievement as the co-founder of the American Indian Movement. Means has been championing Indigenous issues since he began making music in 2009 while studying at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Naataanii is a water protector, an occupant at Standing Rock, and most recently at the Mount Music Festival protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. His latest album Balance is available on iTunes.
Blackfoot, Kainaiwa Nation
Autumn Eagle Speaker is a Blackfoot renaissance woman, a mother of 6, a warrior, lover of Indigeneity, politics, art, and books. Within hours, using her training and experience as a community organizer, Autumn rallied communities across Calgary to lead actions, call for justice, and support the families of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine following the not guilty rulings on their deaths. Each of these protests invited all to march together in solidarity from downtown Calgary to Reconciliation Bridge where statements, prayers, and song were offered.
Siksika & Tsuut’ina Nation
Tressa Lusty is an emerging, bold and passionate aerial silk performer who dedicates her acrobatic art to indigenous issues and awareness like MMIW & the tragedies of residential schools. Through this expression, Tressa is able to find healing and encourage others to find their voice to use their platform to create awareness. Not only is she a Nutrition & wellness coach, she is also a motivational speaker, philanthropist, fitness instructor and a body positive enthusiast.
Blackfoot, Siksika Nation
Status Savage aka Brenn Dacity is an activist and a Hip Hop artist, who uses music to heal, speak up against oppression, racism, genocide, and Intergenerational Trauma. Status Savage is the creator for Iyika'kimaat (always try hard), a workshop creating awareness and education around addictions. Sharing testimonies of First Nation youth overcoming addiction. Status Savage obtained her Diploma in Addictions Counselling, but uses her own experiences as a recovering addict to work best with youth. Status Savage is an Old Style Jingle Dress dancer who is working on preserving her Blackfoot language by speaking, learning, and teaching. Status Savage is a Blackfoot member from the Siksika Tribe, she takes great pride in her culture and believes in empowering every child to reclaim their identity.
Brandi Morin, of French/Cree/Iroquois heritage is passionate about sharing Indigenous stories through her work as a journalist. While uncovering the beauty of her Cree and Iroquois roots and unravelling the struggles of what it means to possess both Indigenous and European ancestry unleashed the inspiration to create Mixed Blood Apparel. Morin’s November debut designs align with Mixed Blood’s vision: Creating empowering, contemporary fashion designs celebrating Indigenous culture, Revitalizing endangered Indigenous languages, and Uplifting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Cree (Master of Ceremonies)
Nicole Robertson is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. The media mogul has dedicated her life to creating awareness about Indigenous Peoples through the press for the past twenty-five years. Nicole’s career has taken her across North America and the United Kingdom, writing, directing, producing, and reporting on issues that encompass Indigenous communities.
Muskwa Productions & Consulting specializes in communication advisory services that include; media and public relations, media training, political and speech writing, social media, event and video productions, public speaking, facilitating, cross-cultural communications training and strategies. Muskwa Productions is assisting businesses, governments, First Nations and industries in their communication strategies to create a true reflection of their values and stories through news, storytelling and social media.
Nicole Robertson was profiled in a book entitled, “Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs” by Second Story Press. The Communications Specialist served as a member on the First Nations Women’s Council on Economic Security through the Province of Alberta and was able to achieve several milestones with the very first team of Indigenous women to advise the Minister of Indigenous Relations. Nicole is now a Board Member with Travel Alberta, which is under the Culture and Tourism Ministry with the Province of Alberta. She recently became a member of the advisory committee for YWCA Calgary.
Nina Segalowitz is from Fort Smith, NWT, has been performing for more than twenty years. The Inuit have practiced throat singing for thousands of years, and their interpretations of nature in their environment are Inuit women’s prized moments of leisure and entertainment. She has performed in many countries (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, USA and across Canada) with many groups and singers including the likes of Ariane Moffat and for esteemed audiences like HRH Queen Mathilde of Belgium.
Ahau Marino was born in the city of Acapulco in Guerrero state, he first studied song and classical guitar and then multiple other genres. Wishing to discover new styles and to enhance his knowledge of ancestral Mexican styles. This young artist excels at guitar and has surrounded himself with varied instruments. The musical fusion he creates is an invitation to travel and share, a concentrated form of energy. On stage, his pleasure is contagious, Ahau Marino’s compositions or classic pieces.
NITE SUN, traditionally known as Tipiskâw Pîsim, her Cree spirit name is reflected through the english translation of her stage name “Nite Sun.” She’s a Cree-Queer-Métis culture carrier who embraces, teaches, and continues to learn about her cultural identity through her music. She also prefers she/her and does not mind him/he pronouns. Her homeland is out on the East Prairie Métis Settlement, located in Northern Alberta on Treaty 8 Territory. She is a childcare worker, a Métis dancer, an entrepreneur, and is currently working on becoming an inspirational and motivational speaker along with being an emcee.