I started on this project back in April 2017 just before we were heading to Paris for a Field School to focus on Fashion. While in Paris the student teams were to prepare lookbooks and trading cards for each of the Otahpiaaki Designers. I assisted with their designs and helped where I was needed. Upon return to Calgary in June, we started to plan this whole fashion week. I was a lead coordinator on this project which meant that I was the main contact during the week, I coordinated all the volunteers we had throughout the week, and I coordinated with PARK for our three fashion showcases at the end of the week.
This project was a success, we had only expected 160 people to each of the showcases and instead we ended up having more that 200 a night. Throughout the week our social media engagement sky rocketed, we had so many more followers and interest in the events of the week. With the success of the second year of Otahpiaaki, I cannot wait to get started on Otahpiaaki 2018.
A little about Otahpiaaki 2017
Otahpiaaki is a social innovation project based at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. Each year, Otahpiaaki hosts our Indigenous Beauty, Fashion and Design Week, featuring some of our region's most inspiring Indigenous artists, designers, and creatives. We believe that the work of reconciliation is for neighbours and that important conversations and teachings can be shared through creative and artistic practices.
Beyond Fashion Week, Otahpiaaki student teams research and co-create opportunities for development -- design, business operations, or social enterprise ideas, with the intent to promote, connect, and protect each unique collection. Over the next seven years, our goal is to contribute to significant social, cultural, restorative, and economic impact across reserves, communities, regions, and territories by providing resources and capacity-building. We emphasize explorations of deep beauty, bold Nation-to-Nation exchange, enhanced industrial design policy and law, and new routes to global markets. We are in search of wise practices and excellence. We work with humility.
Aspiring designers, youth, students, and community members are invited to engage with diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis creative champions whose work is inspired by ancestors, traditions, language, land, image, music and culture. Join us in establishing a fresh national fashion, artisitic and creative identity on the world stage.
Youth and Community Programs (September 18-21)
Engage in extraordinary sessions hosted by Otahpiaaki First Nations and Métis Nation creative champions. Learn protocols and the rich teachings behind the projects that our designers and artists plan to present. From beadwork meditations to the community Michif Moss Bags, there's something for everyone.
Otahpiaaki provides an excellent opportunity for students and youth to build self esteem, engage in co-curricular learning, think about their futures as creative entrepreneurs, and develop new creative skills.
The Truth Fashion Showcase (Thursday September 21)
The Truth Fashion Showcase strives to disrupt, engage, educate, and motivate participants to learn and do. We know the truth is challenging, believe it is essential, and that we can convey powerful truths through fashion and creativity that inspire commitment, action, impact and change.
The Youth Fashion Showcase (Friday September 22)
The Otahpiaaki Youth Fashion Showcase is dedicated to (re)connecting Indigenous culture and perspectives with Indigenous and non-indigenous youth in Treaty 7, the Calgary area, and beyond. The showcase will feature must have, accessible, high energy streetwear and signature style.
The Reconciliation Showcase (Saturday September 23)
the Reconciliation Fashion Showcase will focus on couture, contemporary and avant-garde collections. Included is a collaborative concept for a Reconciliation gown or garment – the culmination of the fashion parade this night will be a fashion look designed to emphasize that the work of reconciliation is for neighbours, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. This night serves to move towards dialogue and healing, and finding pathways towards reconciliation through mutual respect and understanding.