Posts By: Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

For immediate release: March 21, 2019

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto presents the most distinct and progressive Indigenous artists working in fashion, textiles and craft for all audiences. Runway and Marketplace applications are being accepted until April 29, 2019.

Toronto, ON – The second biennial Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto (IFWTO) takes place May 28 – 31, 2020 at Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto. The festival will include runway with performances, marketplace, art exhibition, hands-on workshops, panels and networking events. IFWTO is seeking runway and marketplace submissions, the application deadline is April 29, 2019. Eligible applicants are self-identified Indigenous fashion, craft and textile artists and designers from anywhere in the world whose work holds a clear vision and is at the intersection of fashion, art and culture.

IFWTO is seeking runway and marketplace applications by Indigenous artists, urban or rural, of all artistic levels. IFWTO is particularly interested in works that challenge perceptions of and celebrate Indigenous people and culture with integrity and innovation. IFWTO will work closely with all selected artists and designers to ensure excellence, respect and proper protocols in the presentation, dissemination and exportation of their work.

The first IFWTO was an incredible success. Exciting highlights from IFWTO 2018 included sold out runway shows, a front-page article in the Toronto Star entertainment section, feature article in NOW Magazine, a segment on CBC’s the National and coverage in Vogue and National Geographic, as well as extensive coverage in local and national mainstream and Indigenous press. At IFWTO 2018, Indigenous artists were connected with buyers, curators and programmers from various arts councils, fashion organizations and retailers and they received significant exposure on social media and mainstream media, going on to grow their artistic practice and businesses. To name only a few, Warren Steven Scott was recently nominated for a Canadian Arts & Fashion Award for his jewellery debuted at IFWTO 2018, Lesley Hampton is wholesaling her athleisure collection, Victoria’s Arctic Fashion presented her latest collection to praise at Paris Fashion Week, Ingrid Brooks, Sho Sho Esquiro and Yolonda Skelton presented on the Eiffel Tower for International Indigenous Fashion Week (the Indigenous fashion week group from Saskatchewan), Catherine Blackburn has numerous gallery exhibitions of her New Age Warriors Collection, Curtis Oland was produced by IFWTO and exhibited at Somerset House for International Fashion Showcase 2019… The achievements of designers presented at IFWTO 2018 are great. We look forward to continuing to foster Indigenous designers in 2020.

IFWTO’s goal is to amplify global Indigenous artistic expression in fashion, crafts and textiles and to contribute to growing an Indigenous economy. At Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto 2020, 20+ artists will be presented on the runway, 54 exhibitors will be presented in the marketplace, including a designer showroom, and 20 artists and thought leaders will speak in panels and lectures. Audiences will also have the opportunity to attend a curated exhibition and participate in intensive, pre-registered hands-on workshops.

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto is Indigenous-led and committed to the advancement of Indigenous artists and designers, connecting them and their work to diverse audiences and industry. IFWTO is a four-day festival founded to create space by and for Indigenous artists, to grow an Indigenous economy and to present authentic expression of Indigenous culture through fashion, craft and textiles. IFWTO programming includes at least 60% women.

Artist Registration for Runway and Marketplace:


DEADLINE: April 29, 2019

FEE: $20 per application

Tickets & Packages:

Tickets and festival package sales will be announced in early 2020

More Info:


IFWTO is a fashion, crafts & textiles festival presenting the most distinct and progressive Indigenous-made works. IFWTO celebrates global Indigenous expression in fashion and the arts and its grounding in Indigenous knowledge, ways of life and storytelling. Led by Indigenous women, IFWTO connects audiences to artistic and cultural expression that celebrates and advances Indigenous artists and designers .


Helping Build Brighter Futures – Dumont Technical Institute Inc.

The COVID-19 Pandemic changed the landscape for everyone this spring. For those of us in adult education, we recognized the need to respond swiftly and creatively in order to continue to deliver the high-quality programming needed to support our Métis students, families and communities. The staff collaborated to ensure that our students were able to finish their courses, graduate and move forward on their educational or employment paths. 

DTI staff determined the need for consistency in programs moving forward in this new world of physical distancing, and implemented the Brightspace Learning Management System. This platform would allow for staff to help transform educational programming and delivery through the use of a ‘hybrid’ delivery system model, so students could take classes in a blend of online and in-person sessions. Brightspace gives DTI the capacity to deliver all of our programs online if required. 

In addition to gaining the ability to provide classes in the hybrid model, DTI students were set up with the appropriate technology to allow them to do their studies at a distance. Adult Basic Education students and students in our longer term skills training programs were set up with chrome books or laptops complete with student emails and the required programs installed and ready to use, to make their transition to online learning as simple as possible. 

DTI has made sure to reduce class sizes to allow for a safe distances between students within the classrooms, and have provided reusable masks to every student and staff member, ensuring that additional personal protective equipment and hand sanitizing options are readily available at all learning centres. 

Students of Dumont Technical Institute have had a very positive response to the hybrid learning model, as many found the spring incredibly difficult as they felt disconnected from their school family and the supports that in person training provides. Students in our skills training programs also found it difficult to practice their hands-on learning that would have otherwise been taught in a lab setting. Students appreciate the in-person time that they have with their instructors and classmates in the classroom and lab settings and feel more confident in their skill development. 

Native Education College

At Native Education College, a wide range of services available to students make all the difference when it comes to the success of our learners, especially those facing barriers. From our Elder-in-residence program to the NEC Wellness Warriors, students quickly gain a sense of pride and acceptance from the community of staff, alumni, and fellow students. No matter where you’re from, NEC will feel like home. 

One program that can help kickstart your education journey is the Indigenous Land Stewardship program. ILS offers students career preparation in land and resource management as well as a gateway to higher education. This one-year certificate program consists of ten courses rooted in Indigenous knowledge of land, community, and ecology. Program graduates usually find jobs with employers involved in land and resource administration including First Nations bands; Métis organizations; resource, utility, and land development companies; environmental groups; municipalities and others. Justin Sidon, from the Matsqui First Nation, started his journey at NEC in the Aboriginal Adult Basic Education program. After completing AABE he enrolled in Indigenous Land Stewardship in hopes of taking that knowledge back home with him. “NEC has proven to be a safe place where I have been able to learn and grow. The cultural/traditional values that NEC demonstrates is really important to me. NEC has helped me see a brighter future for myself. It’s like a family. There is a lot of attention and a lot of compassion and a lot of patience. My dream is to gain the tools to go back to my community, and help them develop and grow in a good way. Just like any community of people, they’re trying to evolve and grow.” 

Another great program students can enrol in at NEC is Aboriginal Tourism Operations. This program prepares learners for a rewarding career in the Aboriginal Tourism sector, which is the fastest growing tourism sector in BC. Students gain practical skills and knowledge in ecotourism, heritage interpretation, and cross-cultural tourism. After completing the in-class courses, students continue with a practicum placement with a tourism company based in Metro Vancouver. A major component of this certificate program is learning how to incorporate Indigenous culture and heritage into the tourism industry. 

ATO graduates find employment with various organizations including non-profit agencies, First Nation governments, or municipal, provincial, or federal governments. The jobs may include; Guest Services Coordinator, Vacation Advisor, Customer Service Agent, or Tour Guide The Native Education College is the college of choice for Indigenous learners. NEC provides a culturally appropriate and supportive learning environment for Aboriginal learners, within available resources. Non-Aboriginal learners are also welcome. 

Consultation 2021: Critical and Emerging Issues

Over one intensive day, drill down on the critical issues in consultation and engagement. Benefit from the insights and experience of our national faculty of senior lawyers, government and industry representatives and academics as they grapple with the current and emerging challenges, including: The key issue of WHO: identifying the decision makers and other parties who need to be at the table Cumulative Effects: what are they and how do they impact consultation? Studies and the Consultation process Reconciling Indigenous and Canadian law Critical case law update – the key decisions and why you need to know them UNDRIP in 2021: where are we and where do we go from here? Consultation Agreements. Tips, Traps and Pitfalls to watch out for Municipalities and Tribunals and their (expanded?) role in consultation Plus! For those looking to obtain a solid grounding in the basics, don’t miss our full day Intensive Primer: Fundamentals of Consultation and Accommodation (recorded on November 8, 2018). Learn from Canada’s top experts and obtain a thorough grounding in this complex and evolving area. Register for Bundle Topics include: 

Introduction to Consultation: Who, What and Why. 

Implementing and Assessing ConsultationMechanics of Implementing Consultation: The Relationship and Timing Consultation Agreements: The EssentialsFaculty Program Chairs Robert H. Brent, Senior Counsel, Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Sandra Gogal, Miller Thomson LLP. Program Details 

Questions on program registration?Please contact the Registration Team at 

Questions on the program content? Please contact the Program Lawyer: Alison Hurst at 


Although the majority of university courses are online, ENGAP has offered their Summer Orientation for new students and current upgrading courses IN PERSON! This has been a challenge for both staff and students given that the university itself is largely shut down.

The dedication to teaching and learning has been demonstrated here. With the support of in-person instruction, the new students are acclimated to the difficult subjects of Physics, Math and Chemistry. The rest of the ENGAP students have transitioned to online courses and the ENGAP staff are online as well…still supporting them every step of the way. Even though the academic and social terrain of university has changed dramatically this year, the community of ENGAP still abounds! What is ENGAP? The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) is a welcoming hub of Indigenous students (Métis, First Nation and Inuit) studying to become engineers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba. ENGAP offers upgrading courses in Math, Physics, Chemistry and Intro to Computer Programming, in case your grades are not yet competitive enough to get you directly into first year classes. We offer academic, personal and community supports that create a warm and friendly home away from home to help you succeed. Our Academic Advisor is there to assist students with course planning, arranging free tutoring and registration support

Once you complete your first year of required courses, you can specialize in Civil, Electrical, Computer, Mechanical or Biosystems Engineering. The Co-op program offers work terms in the engineering industry to facilitate your career path moving forward. ENGAP has an inviting lounge where students can study together, use a kitchen and participate in industry run lunch information sessions. Located close by the lounge is our computer lab and printer. Our scholarship and bursary initiative has tremendous financial support from organizations such as Manitoba Aerospace, Lafarge, Price Industries, Vector Construction, Urban Systems, Manitoba Hydro, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba and Hatch Ltd., to name just a few. These companies generously provide much needed scholarships and bursaries to qualifying ENGAP students.

Applications for ENGAP can be found at and are due: May 1st 

Over 12,000 Indigenous people have served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Members of Indigenous communities in Canada overcame many challenges to serve in uniform, whether it was learning a new language, adapting to cultural differences, or undertaking the lengthy travel from remote communities just to enlist. Some even risked losing their status to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, as was the case with Second World War Veteran Francis Blankenship Nahumpchin.

Francis Blankenship Nahumpchin was a member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band, but later gave up his status to join the CAF. He came back from the war physically healthy, but suffering from PTSD.  Although he had been forced to give up his Indigenous status to serve in the military, at his return he was welcomed by the Band as one of their own. He died in 1978 and was buried under a simple wooden cross until the Last Post Fund, in collaboration with researcher Carol Holmes from the Upper Nicola Band, found his grave and installed a military headstone to mark it. To honour Francis’ Indigenous ancestry, his family included his traditional name, Nahumpchin on the inscription.

In keeping with the spirit of the ongoing Reconciliation process and to honour the legacy of Indigenous Veterans, the Last Post Fund launched the Indigenous Veterans Initiative (IVI) in March 2019 to help commemorate and honour those Indigenous Veterans who may have been forgotten.

The Last Post Fund is a charitable organization that has been ensuring dignified funeral and burial services as well as military gravestones to Veterans since 1909. Thanks to researcher Yann Castlenot’s list of over 12,000 names of Indigenous Veterans in Canada, the Last Post Fund already had a starting point for its Indigenous Veterans Initiative.

The Initiative relies on partnerships with community researchers to locate and identify unmarked Veterans’ graves. Once the Veteran’s identity is verified, the Last Post Fund then places a permanent headstone on the site. Additionally, the Indigenous Veterans Initiative offers to inscribe traditional names on existing headstones previously placed by the Last Post Fund.

In the program’s first year, 68 unmarked Indigenous Veterans’ graves were identified, and 36 headstones placed in locations across Canada. Families were given a choice of symbol for the headstone; many choose an eagle carving, or their Nation’s symbol, while some chose a Christian cross. The Indigenous Veterans Initiative also saw the inscriptions of traditional names from four distinct Indigenous language groups: Algonquin, Inuktitut, Interior Salishan, Saulteaux.

For example, in the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Québec, 6 military headstones were placed, and 7 traditional name inscriptions added to existing headstones of Anishinabeg Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. Among them was Ajawajawesi, known as Gabriel Commanda, one of the founders of the town of Val d’Or, Québec and a Veteran of the First World War. These headstones all feature an engraving of an eagle in place of the cross.

A special research project for Métis Veterans is currently underway in Alberta, spearheaded by researcher Bobbi Foulds, member of the Last Post Fund Alberta branch. Thanks to her efforts, a first headstone was installed in Lloydminster, a town bordering Alberta and Saskatchewan, for WW1 Métis Veteran George Loyie, and engraved with the Métis symbol.

If you are interested in getting involved as a researcher, or if you or a family member are a Veteran and you would like more information, you are invited to contact the Indigenous Veterans Initiative Program Coordinator, Maria Trujillo by email at or by phone: 1-800-465-7113 ext: 222.

Métis Nation Second World War Hero’s spouse to receive Recognition Payment in Edmonton, Alberta

On October 7, 2020, WWII, Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn’s spouse Myrtle Calahaisn received thanks from the Métis Nation and inheritance of $20,000. President Audrey Poitras of the Métis Nation of Alberta personally presented the recognition payment to Myrtle Calahaisn on behalf of Métis Nation Veterans Minister David Chartrand.

“75 years ago, the young sons and daughters of our Nation answered the call to defend a country they did not know, in the name of a country that did not respect them. Canada promised opportunity and prosperity upon their return home from the war. A promise that was never kept – until now. It is important to ensure that our WWII Métis Veterans take their rightful place in Canadian history. Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn and all Métis Veterans must be honoured and respected for their sacrifice in protecting freedom and liberty,” states Minister David Chartrand.

The $20,000 Recognition Payment is part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program established in partnership with the Trudeau government to commemorate forgotten Métis soldiers. Mrs. Calahaisn will be the tenth spouse to receive the Recognition Payment since Métis Nation Veterans Minister Chartrand announced on June 29, 2020. The policy is now inclusive of all surviving spouses and common-law partners of Métis Nation WWII Veterans regardless of when their loved one passed.

“The importance of family remains the essence of the Métis Nation,” states Minister David Chartrand. “Our WWII Métis Veterans who have passed would want to take care of their families and ensure their future and prosperity. We now have the ability to help the families of our Veterans heal, and take comfort, knowing their loved one is being honoured as a Hero of this country. Our Heroes Today, Tomorrow and Forever”.

“Today, we thank Walter Calahaisn for his years of service and remember all he accomplished as a Private and as a Métis citizen,” said President Audrey Poitras. “Myrtle was by Walter’s side for 50 years, working with him, caring for him, and I am so glad to present her with this recognition cheque today. For too long, the dedication and bravery of Métis veterans like Walter went unrecognized. Métis across the Homeland sacrificed much in defense of their country. Now, through the Métis Veterans Legacy Program, we are able to give them and their spouses the acknowledgement and compensation they deserve.”

Métis Veteran Walter Calahaisn was born on October 16, 1922, and passed on August 24, 2000. Veteran Calahaisn was a Private and served in Canada, United Kingdom, Continental Europe and the Central Mediterranean Area. The Department of National Defence employed Veteran Calahaisn as a building maintenance man. Veteran Calahaisn and Myrtle owned and operated a janitorial business and an Indigenous gift shop. Veteran Calahaisn enjoyed playing baseball, horseback riding, dancing and playing guitar.

He married Myrtle on July 28, 1950, and raised nine children. Myrtle is a member of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. In 2009 she received an ESQUAO award that recognizes Aboriginal women who have positively impacted Alberta’s Aboriginal communities. Myrtle is also the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“Our Heroes Today, Tomorrow and Forever”


For more information, contact:

Albert Beck

Métis National Council

c: 613-447-7216

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

Download Press Release (PDF)

Brief History of the Lands


imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Goes Online for 2020

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing film, video, audio, and digital + interactive media made by Indigenous screen-content creators, returns October 20 – 25, 2020 with a twist – the festival will take place completely online!

Now in its 21st year, imagineNATIVE has moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions, where they will present a dynamic selection of film, visual arts, video games and more from 153 Indigenous artists in 23 languages from 13 countries and 97 Indigenous nations. The Festival will include ten feature films, four short programs, two guest curated programs, and one artist spotlight on Thirza Cuthand.

Throughout the Festival four short programs will be screened that are each named after one of the four colours in the medicine wheel. imagineNATIVE will open the Festival with the shorts program YELLOW on October 20, a program composed of works created by artists from seven different nations. The additional shorts programs include: RED on October 21, six short films that offer stories of connection where land and love reunite to bring hope and resilience; BLACK on October 23, eight visually arresting shorts at the vanguard of Indigenous Cinema; and WHITE on October 24, seven short films that tell stories about family, communities, Indigenous languages, and representation.

imagineNATIVE will honour Lorne Cardinal with the 6th annual August Schellenberg Award of Excellence. The August Schellenberg Award of Excellence was launched in partnership with Joan Karasevich Schellenberg to honour her late husband, the legendary actor August (Augie) Schellenberg, and the spirit of his work. The “Augie” Award will be presented to Lorne Cardinal as part of the imagineNATIVE Awards Presentation on October 25.

With the community as a priority, the 2020 imagineNATIVE Festival will be guided by Indigenous practices of gifting and reciprocity. imagineNATIVE will be ‘gifting from the spirit and for the spirit’ with daily draws for physical and digital giveaways throughout the Festival, highlighting Indigenous artists, goods, and companies.

The 21st Annual imagineNATIVE Festival will close October 25 with the Canadian premiere of Compañía by Bolivian director Miguel Hilari, which provides a deeper understanding of perspectives of home and migration using documentary, experimental, and visual poetry.

Tickets and passes are on sale now at

17th Annual DTES Heart of the City Festival

Have you ever wanted to look beyond the headlines into the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside?

The 17th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival welcomes you to over 100 events in the city’s most culturally and socially diverse neighbourhood- the place where Vancouver began.

Situated on Coast Salish homelands between Burrard Inlet and the False Creek Flats, Victory Square and Clark Drive, the Downtown Eastside is home to one of Canada’s largest urban Aboriginal reserves, North America’s second largest historical Chinatown, and Canada’s largest and busiest port.

Like communities across the land, residents are coping with a world -wide pandemic, an opioid and housing crisis and legacies of historic displacement and systemic racism. But when gathering places close and people are isolated, they lose their sense of cultural connection and community connection.

This year, more than ever, Downtown Eastside residents and artists seek cultural events, artistic activity, and opportunities to get together. A host of partners and hundreds of artists have come together for this year’s festival, sharing strengths arising from the community’s compelling creativity and resilience, rich diverse traditions, knowledge systems, ancestral languages, cultural roots and stories.

In response to COVID, the festival has been re-imagined, with programming mostly online, some outdoors and a handful of intimate events in theatres or in a park. This year’s festival offers music, stories, poetry, ceremony, cultural exchanges, films, readings, forums, workshops, discussions, art talks, history talks and visual exhibitions.

There are online music events – An evening with blues queen Dalannah Gail Bowen; Spotlight on the East End with Khari Wendell McClelland, Geoff Berner, Hannah Walker, Rup Sidhu, and Shon Wong’s Son of James; DTES Front and Centre Showcase sharing stories and songs by local performers , and East End Blues & All That Jazz bringing music and stories of the historic Black residential community, with gospel and blues artists Tom Pickett and Candus Churchill, and guests Thelma Gibson and Dalannah Gail Bowen.

There are Commemorative events – an online Tribute to the Carnegie Centre’s 40th Anniversary with special guest Libby Davies; a film about the Survivors Totem Pole, carver Skuundaal Bernie Williams and the powerful pole-raising and potlatch witnessing ceremony at Pigeon Park attended by Elders, VIP’s and over 1000 residents; Long-time activist Sid Chow Tan shares videos highlighting direct action in Chinatown (My Art is Activism, Part II).

There are cultural exchanges – Hearts Beat, with the lexwst’l:lem Drum Group, Irish Canadian group Ceol Abú, and musician Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (online from Ireland). In the Beginning: A Cultural Sharing, storyteller Rosemary Georgeson, Firehall Artistic Producer Donna Spencer and moderator Kim Haxton, are joined by Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and artists to share stories and history of local Indigenous peoples prior to and during colonization (Firehall Arts Centre and Vancouver Moving Theatre presentation).

There are readings – scenes from we the same, Ruby Slipper Theatre’s new play by Sangeeta Wylie inspired by the true story of a mother’s flight from Vietnam with her six children. A virtual residency with Imagi’Nation Collective, launches Jenifer Reads, a new program hosted by APTN TV personality Jenifer Brousseau (Wild Archeology). She has invited diverse youth to join her in reading and engaging through an Indigenous lens with Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl.

Grounds for Goodness Downtown Eastside: Adventures in Digital Community Art Making is a virtual residency with Toronto-based Jumblies Theatre & Arts, to artfully explore why and how people sometimes do good things towards others. A team of Toronto artists, Vancouver artists and Downtown Eastside participants are creating an interactive online event. The public is invited to online workshops, talks, a gallery and concert.

These are the kinds of activities that bring strength to Downtown Eastside community members: putting everyone’s voice in the circle, nurturing and restoring social bonds, pulling together, healing through culture and standing in their truth.