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Developed by a team of students, guided by the advice of territorial Elders and knowledge keepers, and supported by faculty from Mount Royal University, Otahpiaaki Indigenous Beauty, Fashion & Design week has presented 40+ Indigenous fashion designers, artists and performers from18 Nations local to Treaty 6, 7, and 8 and as far as Navajo & Toisnot Tuscarora.

The project is anchored to social justice and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call-to-Action #83, which calls for support of Indigenous and non-Indigenous creative projects. Our goal is to invite and contribute to social, cultural, restorative, and economic reconciliation through First Nations, Indigenous communities by promoting, protecting, and providing resources, research, and capacity-building using a social enterprise model.

In our fourth and final year at MRU, we are focused on iihpkim mootspi (Blackfoot) --passing on the teachings that one has received, to communities in the hopes that Otahpiaaki will blossom in many Nations under the guidance of emerging Indigenous creatives, educators, and Elders.

It is also the International Year of Indigenous Languages (United Nations), a year to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, and an opportunity to establish links between sovereignty, language, peace, truth, and reconciliation. As such, the theme Winter Counts is meant to encourage and platform the stories in designers’ collections and visualizations of language and message in pattern, form, and action.