Giinawind Co. she shows skirt designs with ribbons at a fashion show

Many models and designers dream of the splendor and glamor of the Paris runway.

But a native-led art collective in Thunder Bay is reviving another dream, in the form of a cedar runway.

As Indigenous History Month began last week, Giinawind Co. held a fashion show for his exhibition for 13 months. Thirteen First Nation designers have been invited to create their own ribbon skirts, along with several ribbon shirts, each representing a different phase of the moon.

Fawn Meshake is a cultural worker at Giinawind and said she got the idea during one of their weekly drumming nights.

“I sat here and listened to the drums and I had a vision of skirts hanging on the walls because I always thought it would be nice to fill them with more artwork,” Meshake said.

“There are so many skirt manufacturers in Thunder Bay, there are a lot of them. And when I do [saw] that’s what I imagined. “

Fawn Meshake drums as her daughter sings a song before a fashion show. (Jasmine Kabatay / CBC)

Meshake, who also worked with Genevieve Desmoulin on the idea, presented it to Giinawind founder Jacenia Desmoulin who turned it into the show it became.

“We have been planning this, I believe, since April. The most important and most difficult thing was to find people to make skirts and shirts. I mean, without them we wouldn’t have tonight,” Jacenia Desmoulin said on the day of the event.

Desmoulin said that she invited interested designers to Facebook and Instagram and that she had many inquiries, but she had to narrow them down to 13.

“I think we have a lot of creative events in Thunder Bay, but I think we miss … Events focused on indigenous people, especially when it comes to fashion and higher art,” Desmoulin said.

“Since it was founded and established indigenous, I feel it is such an important thing for our community to grow, to continue to develop. So I wanted to be a part of it and that was always important to me. ”

The event began with the prayer of an elder, followed by the drumming and performance of a song by Mešak’s daughter.

Matthew Wapoose walks the runway modeling a skirt with a ribbon. (Jasmine Kabatay / CBC)

Matthew Wapoose was the model for the show, and said they saw an advertisement for bi-spiritual men and women, and that they wanted to pay tribute to their female side.

“I’m a little nervous, I’ve never done anything like this before. But, you know, there’s a first time for everything,” Wapoose said before the show.

“Honestly … I didn’t grow up with my tradition and knowledge of my culture. But I’m also learning that, I thought I’d challenge myself by doing this and, you know, paying homage to my feminine spirit. So a little scary, but I feel excited.”

Wapoose said events run by Giinawind, such as a fashion show, make them feel seen and involved when they participate.

“I feel like I actually have a community. So, like, it’s really nice.”

The skirts and several shirts will be on display at Giinawind in June for people to admire, but will also be sold to the public. So, when the exhibition is over, the items will be sent to their new owners.

The model shows a skirt with a ribbon on the runway at Giinawind Co. (Jasmine Kabatay / CBC)

Meshake plans to hold another event like this in the future, but with T-shirts with ribbons as the main focus.

“I just wish I could see more and see as everyone’s vision, really, how they interpret it in their minds,” Meshake said.

Meshake said she felt honored and blessed to see her vision come to life.

“I’m really grateful to have a place like Giinawind, you know, where visions like this can come true. And then it becomes a real thing, not just for my eyes, but for the eyes of everyone around us.”

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