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Indigenous influencers from northern Ont. to model in N.Y. Fashion Week


An Indigenous fashion designer from Alberta is preparing to showcase culturally-inspired clothing designs on an international stage and she’s inviting inspirational and influential Indigenous people from across Canada to model her creations.

Stephanie Crowchild makes custom coats using Pendleton blankets, Hudson’s Bay point blankets and other items, in homage of her heritage as a Tsuu t'ina Nation woman.

Stephanie Crowchild sews a custom piece for Stephanie Eagletail Designs. She’s creating a custom clothing lineup to show off on a New York runway in September and told CTV News she wanted to represent all 11 Treaty Territories on Turtle Island.

To that end, Crowchild is bringing around 20 models with her, including three from First Nations in northeastern Ontario – fellow fashion designer Scott Wabano, model Emma Morrison and social media influencer Nathalie Restoule.

They’re all people Crowchild said are making positive impacts in their communities and who she felt deserve a larger platform.

“They inspire me,” she said.

“To me, I see them as good role models within their communities and for my children, as well.”

To see more of Crowchild's designs and her preparations for fashion week, visit the Stephanie Eagletail Designs' Facebook page of follow them on TikTok.

These are the stories behind the three people representing Treaty Nine at New York Fashion Week:

Emma Morrison

Profile on Miss World Canada contestant Emma Morrison from Chapleau Cree First Nation in northern Ontario. (Pageant Group Canada)

Emma Morisson is a 22-year-old proud Mushkegowuk woman from Chapleau Cree First Nation, 200 kilometres west of Timmins.

After being invited to compete in Miss North Ontario and win in the competition in 2017, Morrison went on to become the first Indigenous woman to win Miss Teenage Canada later that year and more recently the first Indigenous woman to win Miss World Canada in then 2022 competition.

Morrison now travels the country, speaking to Indigenous youth about the importance of pursuing their passions and that coming from a small community shouldn’t deter them.

“Regardless of your limitations and your surroundings, you can still accomplish big things,” she said in an interview at an Indigenous youth gathering in Timmins

“I was taught that … it’s about opening that door for others to walk through. Being that representation for Indigenous peoples, in areas where it was lacking representation.”

Morrison was attracted to Crowchild’s work because of the stories behind her artistry and how it honours her unique culture.

Morrison told CTV News she is excited to join the rest of the roster of influential Indigenous people Crowchild has assembled.

One of the other members of the roster is no stranger to Morrison, Ashley Collingbull, who was the first Canadian and Indigenous woman to win the Miss Universe pageant in 2015, and coached Morrison while competing for Miss Canada.

“I’m excited to reunite at this event, where we’re celebrating Indigenous success,” she said.

For more information on Morrison's youth work and pageant success, follow her on Instagram.

Nathalie Restoule

Nathalie Restoule is an Indigenous advocate and social media influencer from Dokis First Nation, who was recently crowned Ms. Regional Canada. (Supplied)Restoule is Anishinaabe Kwe from Dokis First Nation is the newly crowned Ms. Regional Canada for 2022.

Crowchild said Restoule has a passion and dedication to revitalizing Indigenous culture and has been an advocate on Indigenous issues.

Restoule has travelled to many communities to exchange valuable knowledge and stories.

Crowchild said Restoule to her that her life’s goal is to educate and inspire others within her community and Nation on healthy relationships; to one’s self and the rest of creation.

Even with a 100k+ following on social media, Restoule strives to create a safe space to share and educate on Indigenous perspectives and domestic violence against women; having overcome these issues in her own personal life.

Restoule has said on social media that her inner strength comes from ancestral resilience and she wants to share that strength with everyone who needs it.

“Never apologize for how deeply you feel. How deeply you love ... When you have a heart of gold and your intentions are pure - you don’t loose anyone, people loose you,” said Restoule, in an Instagram post.

To see her work on creating an online safe space, follow her on TikTok.

Scott Wabano

Scott Wabano, a two-spirited fashion designer born in the Cree nation of Waskaganish, in the Eeyou Istchee region in northern Quebec, and raised in Moose Factory. (Supplied)A two-spirited fashion designer born in the Cree nation of Waskaganish, in the Eeyou Istchee region in northern Quebec, and raised in Moose Factory, Scott Wabano is set to take the world stage in both New York Fashion Weeks this year.

In February, he is getting his own New York Fashion Week runway to show off clothing from his own sustainable and 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive clothing brand WABANO, with a team of six models.

Wabano, who uses he and they pronouns interchangeably, will then be modeling Crowchild’s designs in September.

Raised around ceremonies, Pow Wows and traditional gatherings, Wabano said he would design regalia, ceremonial wear, as well as Pow Wow and hunting gear.

They would often take inspiration from their grandparents, who created crafts, as well as other cultural designs.

“It was just a childhood filled with designing,” Wabano said, during an interview at an Indigenous youth gathering in Timmins.

“Fashion has just been intertwined with my culture and the way I was raised.”

Now his goal is to bring Indigenous fashion into the spotlight, which he’s had success in this far, being dubbed Best Dressed by the Globe and Mail in 2022.

They said authentic and honest representation of Indigenous people has been excluded in the entertainment and fashion industries.

As someone who has dealt with the degeneration impacts of the residential school system and the disadvantages of living in a remote community, they feel it’s critical for young Indigenous people to see themselves reflected in wider society.

“I truly do believe that representation is a form of harm reduction,” said Wabano.

“When youth see Indigenous people thriving and also doing well in their professional careers, that really does give them the motivation and the inspiration to bring that to their own lives.”

He said the Indigenous fashion community is a close-knit one, due to how few are able to find success in the industry

They all share their stories, their cultures and their artwork, often seeing themselves as collaborators, rather than competitors.

“We’re here to help each other, uplift each other, support each other’s works and … being proud of where we come from,” he said.

That’s how he connected with Stephanie Crowchild, being a long-time follower of her art and drawing inspiration from her work.

Wabano said he particularly loves her work in teaching communities across the country about the importance of Indigenous fashion and doing it sustainably, which also fuels his own work.

Crowchild’s desire to be part of a community of Indigenous creators and give each other platforms for exposure is what Wabano said makes this year’s fashion showcases in New York all the more meaningful.

He said her inclusion of diverse First Nations, Metis and Intuit communities contributes to squashing the notion of pan-Indigineity, meaning the lack of acknowledgement of distinct communities and cultures, in favour of a simpler narrative that all Indigenous people are the same.

“We’re finally getting this platform where we could showcase our beautiful stories, our beautiful fashion, our beautiful people,” said Wabano.

“It just really shows the beauty and the diversity that is being Indigenous.”

To see more of Wabano's collection as they prepare for their fashion week debut, follow them on Instagram.

Awaiting New York Fashion Week

Crowchild said everyone she invited to New York with her share a vision of Indigenous representation and promoting the distinct First Nations cultures across Turtle Island.

She told CTV News she hopes it will be an opportunity for everyone to learn about the different communities and share knowledge and teachings.

“Each model is going to represent themselves and where they come from,” said Crowchild.

“They’ll all represent (their) Treaty Territory and I think it’s going to be really amazing to see all of the different diverse Nations that I’m going to bring together.”

Crowchild said her goal being to not only have the industry recognize the importance of Indigenous fashion, but also the diversity of culture and creativity within the Indigenous communities. Top Stories

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