(ANNNews) – On December 12, Heart of The City showcased emerging indigenous talent in the city of Edmonton. The event was attended by the newly elected mayor of Edmonton Amarjeet Sohi and his wife, Sarbjeet Sohi. Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse was the host of the evening, which included a venison stew for the guests of Nék̓em’s Vee Point!
“I am proud to support Edmonton’s indigenous community,” said Mayor Sohi. “In the new year I hope to do more for the indigenous people living in the city.” He also said he intends to invest more in indigenous art and culture and stressed the vital role indigenous people play in Edmonton.
Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton is a non-profit organization whose mission is “inspiration and opportunity through the arts.” Their vision is to be “one of our city’s premier free music and arts festivals, dedicated to promoting and supporting local, original and up-and-coming artists in the heart of Edmonton.”
Community partners included Mike Siek and Fay Fey Dunaway of the board of directors of Heart of the City, Epcor’s Heart and Soul Fund, The Edmonton Arts Council, McCauley Community League and the venue was provided by the Parkdale Cromdale Community League.
The event was organized by Corinne Demas, who is part of the Heart Of The City Music Festival. He said his group was trying to highlight indigenous fashion and art in Edmonton. The group has partnered with Edmonton’s emerging community of indigenous talent, art and fashion to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the urban community.
Demas said the event was the first indigenous fashion show of the Heart of the City Festival, a collection of clothes and a community dinner.
She was able to highlight three emerging stylists: Heather Bouchier, Rhonda Johnson and Erin Meetoos.
Heather Bouchier said she has a great relationship with Corinne Demas. “We discussed the event in front of a bonfire and she wanted to do something with indigenous art. The Heart of the City Music festival is usually held in the summer, but because of the covid -19 they have had to change things, “he explained.
During the show Bouchier presented his cycling line which incorporates the fabric of indigenous textile designer Stephanie Gustafson. He described his cycling line as inspired by 90s grunge and the use of sheer fabrics.
“I take inspiration from my Cree culture, but I also use Western techniques,” said Bouchier.
In speeches delivered at the event, Bouchier explained that she grew up poor and low-income. “I grew up being told not to waste anything. Growing up I made a lot of second-hand purchases and I still do today: it’s part of the inspiration behind cycling. ”
Rhonda Johnson, owner of Acahkos Designs, a native of Treaty 8 and the Cold Lake community, said she designed most of her life.
“My style is Indigenous Glam,” Johnson said. “I’ve been planning most of my life. I graduated from the school of fashion and design in 2016 ”.
She explained: “I am a mother and raise a family while pursuing a career in fashion. After taking some time off during COVID-19, I am returning to the fashion community with a new line.”
He describes his line as an infusion of traditional and contemporary indigenous design. “I use a lot of tapes with a modern indigenous aesthetic.”
Johnson said that “we learn a lot from our culture orally and from our elders, but we also have to learn professionalism, for example, our elders cannot teach us how to sketch a model.”
Erin Meetoos, was the third designer to showcase her work and in an online video provided by Heart of the City, she said: “I’ve been designing custom powwow signs for the past fourteen years … but this was my first fashion show. fashion and I was excited and very nervous “.
Meetoos explained that his insignia designs are wearable and for indigenous women; nothing too exclusive but pieces that you can wear for galas or events. ”
The event also included indigenous beauty companies such as “Beauty by Jacqueline” owned by Jacqueline Buffalo.
“I applied lashes, touched up brows and modeled makeup,” Buffalo said. “I agreed to come and help because I’m friends with designers and my business is pretty new so I’m willing to go out and help promote business.”
It’s such an amazing experience to be part of the indigenous fashion community, Buffalo added. “I absolutely love the people I have met over the years. Without them it would be difficult to continue doing what I love, that is to be creative ”.
Darrell Brertton, a prominent indigenous powwow dancer and entrepreneur who modeled the show, said, “It was such good medicine! I loved the energy from the models to the designers all the way to our special guest, the Mayor of the City of Edmonton. It is an honor to model these fantastic pieces because there is no doubt in my mind that these designers will be famous all over the turtle island ”.