By Tawnya Plain Eagle
One Piikani youth and a business faculty member from Mount Royal University join forces to host the third annual Otahpiiaki Pride and Protest fashion show in Calgary.
Otahpiiaki is a Blackfoot word that in English describes the moment the vamp is sewed onto the moccasin.
Spirit River Striped Wolf and Patricia Derbyshire have been working together to create a stage for Indigenous fashion and creators.
“This project was put together to try and highlight our communities as well as humanize Indigenous people at the same time,” Striped Wolf said.
According to Striped Wolf, the idea came after designers expressed the lack of support for Indigenous creators in the fashion world.
Striped Wolf said Otahpiaaki is more than just a fashion show, he wants to able to contribute to economic development within Indigenous communities.
With that, he hopes Otahpiaaki could be a way to empower entrepreneurs and give them a platform to share their work.
“We know what cultural genocide has done, so what is it that we need to do to help economic development growth and allow our culture to be more resilient,” he said.
Striped Wolf has been researching ways where this particular social enterprise can help flourish Indigenous communities.
He looked into how culture genocide has impacted First Nation people and how the loss culture has taken away our ability to become successful entrepreneurs.
“A lot of that stems from colonization, it is not us doing it to ourselves, it's purposeful to help dismantle indigenous unity,”
Going forward he wants Individuals to have a space where they can sure their stories through different means and allow Indigenous people to have the opportunity to expand their relationships.
Striped Wolf admits that Otahpiaaki has allowed artists to do that.
"Things like Otahpiaaki is an opportunity for indigenous people to be able to tell their story and show their craftmanship," he said.
During the three day show, not only do they represent designers but highlight artwork as well.
Each show also starts off with two performances from Indigenous artists like Jamie Medicine Crane or JB The First Lady.
There is also the opportunity to purchase works from various designers featured on the runway.
“My dream is to have a hub for Indigenous people, not to make us more unified to make us feel freer as individuals, and I think Otahpiaaki can help contribute to that,” he said.
The week consisted of workshops, panels and vendors at Mount Royal University, and ended with performances from Indigenous artists at the Calgary Tower.