Indigenous women in remote isolated regions of Ontario – Like Jennifer Wabano Asipi and Donna Gull; You too can get your brand on the market – please send your expression of interest or portfolio to the SDNR team at York University. https://www.sdnr.ca
Indigenous Fashion Week was brought forward for the sole purpose of creating economic opportunities for Indigenous women living in remote regions of Canada. The first ever Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week held in December 2017 also paid homage to Indigenous youths, many of whom do not have a voice in the mainstream media. The 2017 show not only drew the attention of thousands, it also offered two
The Founder of the real Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week
Charlene Lindsay was exposed to fashion at an early age by both her Cree and English grandmothers. On her Cree side, she was taught to sew and bead when she was just seven. Her fashionista side is entirely her English grandmothers fault. She came from an aristocratic family and had this uniqueness to her that inspired me when I was growing up – ‘says Lindsay.’ In addition to her exceptional taste for fashion, she was also university educated from Great Britain, and she came to Canada for the sole purpose of teaching. Her influence played a huge role in my life says Lindsay a current Ph.D (candidate). As such, she is following very closely in the footsteps of her European grandmother. Although she has plans to someday become a Professor, she is also extremely passionate about sustainable development, fashion, environmental degradation, entrepreneurship, and using her education to give back to her Indigenous relations. One of the many reasons why she is working to create new entrepreneurship opportunities for Indigenous women in remote parts of Ontario through the Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay Indigenous Fashion Weeks. https://www.sdnr.ca
Indigenous Fashion Designer’s from Peawanuck- Jennifer Wabano Asipi and Donna Gull
Jennifer Wabano Asipi is originally from Weenusk First Nation, also known as Peawanuck which is the second most northern community in Ontario on the Hudson Bay Coast. As a Northern Cree Omushkegowuk Artist, Jennifer has been making a variety of homemade Indigenous crafts for more than 20 years. She grew up watching her mom, grandmother, and aunts beading and sewing. Early exposure to her ancestors traditional way of life enabled her to learn sewing and design when she was just a teen. The handmade mitts, gloves, moccasins, mukluks, hats, bags, coats, guitar straps, and feather blankets were but a few of the items she showcased at the first ever Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week https://www.torontoindigenousfashionweek.com in December 2017 which was actually hosted by SDNR for First Nations https://www.sdnr.ca. Jennifer’s Designs are made from natural tanned moose and caribou hide, as well as various furs such as coyote, fox, rabbit, beaver, and seal. Her crafts and jewels are made of commercial hides and faux fur which are inspired by her grandmother’s story-telling and her Omushkegowuck Northern Cree culture. Jennifer’s Designs have already caught the attention of an international market and she has plans to get her Designs moving out of Canada. Although Jennifer is currently displaying her Designs on her Facebook page called: Designs by Jenii, the SDNR team https://www.sdnr.ca is currently working with her to get her website up and running and her Intellectual Property in place so she’s legally protected when she enters the international market.
Donna Gull is a fluent Cree speaking Indigenous Artisan living in Timmins, Ontario; however, she is originally from Peawanuck First Nation which is situated approximately 30 km upriver from the Hudson Bay. Like many young Indigenous girls, Donna grew up sitting at the table, watching her mother sew, bead, and create beautiful crafts. Her grandmother taught her how to make moccasins when she was just 11. Since the age of 5, Donna has been creating masterpieces which have provided her with a sense of connection to the land and her traditional way of life. Donna feels accomplished and proud in how far she has come. “My dream was sewn into me when I was 5 years old” says Donna. Her success thus far is a constant reminder to her that she must continue to strive in her dreams. Although Donna is currently showcasing her pieces through her facebook page “Cree Style by DeLores”, the SDNR team https://www.sdnr.ca is currently working with her to ensure she gets her work legally protected before she enters the international market and they are also working to help Donna get her own website up and running.
The next Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week is set for March 13th – 16th, 2019 and is going to be even bigger than the last one says Lindsay as she has already received bookings from Indigenous Designers in Australia and the US. In addition, Lindsay and her team have already launched the Ottawa Indigenous Fashion Weekhttp://www.sdnr.ca which is set to kick off July 1st – 4th with an opening ceremony taking place on June 21st (which is a big day for Indigenous peoples in Canada). And when that show wraps, SDNR will be moving on to host the first ever Montreal Indigenous Fashion Week on October 16th -19thhttp://www.sdnr.ca and the first ever Thunder Bay Indigenous Fashion Week December 11th -14th, 2019.