Indigenous Fashion Futurities – Role of Community Here & Tomorrow
The Indigenous fashion world is community oriented, value driven and accessible to all. It is propelled by a desire to ensure that there is room for everyone around the table, especially the next generation.
To implement the principles contained within the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Textile Museum of Canada is currently working to centre the voices, stories, and the work of Indigenous creatives and makers working in fashion, textile, and fibre arts.
Organized by the Textile Museum, in partnership with Fashion Arts Toronto, this half-day symposium aims to centre community voices by bringing change makers, Indigenous designers, makers, and creatives to the stage and introduce their work, their values, and methodologies to new audiences.
See below for a description of the panels and participant biographies.
Can’t attend in person? Join us remotely by purchasing a virtual ticket!
Panel 1: Change Makers
This panel focuses on how industry innovators are opening up spaces for and elevating the Indigenous fashion community through their organization or practice.
· Jason Baerg
· Christian Allaire (Vogue)
· Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (SWAIA Indigenous Fashion)
· Riley Kucheran
· Armando Perla (Textile Museum)
· Vanja Vasic (Fashion Arts Toronto)
Panel 2: Creatives
In this intergenerational dialogue, attendees will be able to meet and learn from Indigenous designers at different stages in their career share their experiences, and exchange teachings with each other.
· Amber-Dawn Bear Robe
· Jason Baerg
· Jori Brennon
· Angela DeMontigny
· Justine Woods
· Dehmin Osawamick Cleland
Raised Red River in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Jason Baerg is also a registered member of the Métis Nations of Ontario. They serve their community as an Indigenous activist, curator, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. Select international solo exhibitions include Canada House in London, UK, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, and the Digital Dome at the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. As a 2 Spirit Cree Métis fashion designer, they launched their first commercial cruise capsule collection with the New York City-based Fashion Art Gallery in 2018. In 2020 they released a complete collection at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto under their brand Ayimach Horizons. In 2022, Baerg opened Santa Fe’s Indian Market Fashion Show Gala and was reviewed by Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe, one of the organizers and a recognized Indigenous fashion expert, who wrote, “Jason Baerg’s collection was a crowd favourite!!!” This community recognition meant as much to me as being highlighted in Vogue as being one of the “15 Indigenous Artists to Know from This Year’s Santa Fe Indian Market”. In 2023, ELLE Magazine acknowledged Jason Baerg as one of “5 Indigenous Fashion Designers You Need to Know”.
Founder / Creative Director of Fashion Art Toronto
Vanja Vasic is the founder and curator of Fashion Art Toronto – the longest-standing fashion week in Toronto. Fashion Art Toronto is the first festival of its kind in Canada to present a platform for provocative, experimental, and avant-garde fashion shows, immersive multimedia installations, performances, design, photography, and film.
For 18 years Fashion Art Toronto has been the leading fashion event in Canada to prioritize the inclusion of models and participants from diverse cultural backgrounds, diverse body types, and the LGBTQ2S+ community.
As the Director of Fashion Art Toronto, Vasic has become one of the leading forces in fostering talent in the art and fashion industries. During the last 18 years, Vasic has curated, promoted and presented more than 500 designers and artists from Canada and abroad.
She received a bachelor’s in Fashion Design at TMU in Toronto, Canada and studied fashion at Westminster University in London, England.
Armando Perla is a non-binary queer mestizo (Nahua and Euro-Salvadoran) international curator and museum consultant who is currently Head Curator at the Textile Museum of Canada. Perla is also Vice-President of the board of the Canadian Museums Association and previously, they were Chief Curator for the Toronto History Museums at the City of Toronto. From 2019 – 2021, they were a board member of the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) International Committee on Ethical Dilemmas (IC-Ethics). Between 2021 and 2022, they curated a major children’s exhibition on historic memory and human rights for the United Nations Development Program and the Swiss Agency for International Cooperation in Central America in El Salvador. Perla also held the position of Assistant Professor on Decolonization and Race in Museums with the Master of Museum Studies, Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, and also served as International Advisor on Museums, Human Rights, and Social Inclusion for the City of Medellin, Colombia. They were part of the founding team of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Project Leader at the Swedish Museum of Migration and Democracy. During their tenure at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights they were also an adjunct professor both at the faculty of law at the University of Manitoba and in the Global College at the University of Winnipeg. They hold a Bachelor of Laws from l’Université Laval in Canada and a Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law from Lund University and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden. Prior to working in the museum sector, Perla held several roles in human rights organizations in North America, Latin America, and Europe. Perla is currently a PhD candidate in Art History and Museology at the University of Montreal and in 2021 was awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Fellowship for their research.
As an Indigenous fashion researcher and academic I support a global community of Indigenous makers who are leading design resurgence. My experience in fashion retail and entrepreneurship and my knowledge of Indigenous theory means I see fashion as a powerful tool for decolonization. Indigenous design is sustainable because it relies on communities to collectively make clothing in a respectful and reciprocal way. In my work, I try to bridge Indigenous methodology with research in the creative industries and fashion management while connecting industry partners to communities in mutually beneficial ways. I also have responsibilities in my own community, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, and I am currently doing a PhD with them about how Indigenous creative industries like fashion can mobilize our cultural and economic resurgence.
Christian Allaire is currently the Senior Fashion and Style Writer at Vogue in New York City. He is First Nations (Ojibwe) and grew up on the Nipissing First Nation reserve in Ontario, Canada. He earned his Bachelor of Journalism degree from Ryerson University in 2014. He also published his first book, The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures, in 2021.
Amber-Dawn Bear Robe
Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Siksika Nation) is Assistant Faculty of Native Art History in the Museum Studies department at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Santa Fe, NM and Fashion Show Program Director for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), Santa Fe, NM. Bear Robe’s projects center on contemporary Indigenous fashion and the intersection of Native North American art practices with fashion and design. She is also developing curriculum for the History of Indigenous Fashion while researching to help form Indigenous Fashion Theory. Regional Emmys were awarded to Bear Robe, in 2020 and 2021, as the producer for two documentary short films on Indigenous fashion. The Canadian Arts & Fashion Changemaker Award was granted to Bear Robe, October 2023.
My name is Jori Brennon. I identify as a Cree Two-Spirit and Queer artist hailing from Treaty 6 Territory, specifically Frog Lake, and Ministikwan, which I consider home. As an artist and designer, my primary focus lies in beadwork. I specialize in crafting accessories, including earrings, hair pieces, and bags. My artistic vision revolves around seamlessly merging traditional indigenous elements with contemporary aesthetics, resulting in statement pieces that exude elegance fit for red carpet occasions.”
Justine Woods is a garment artist, designer, creative scholar, and educator based in Tkaronto (Toronto, Ontario). She is an SSHRC-CGS D funded Doctoral Student in the Media and Design Innovation Ph.D. program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson). She also holds a Master of Design from OCAD University and a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design from Toronto Metropolitan University. Wood’s research and design practice centres Indigenous fashion technologies and garment-making as practice-based methods of inquiry toward re-stitching alternative worlds that prioritize Indigenous resurgence and liberation. Her work foregrounds all of the relationships that make up her identity as a Penetanguishene Halfbreed; an identity she has inherited from her family and her Aabitaawizininiwag Ancestors.
Angela DeMontignyis an award-winning designer, artist, entrepreneur, and mentor of Cree/Métis heritage, who has been a pioneer of the Indigenous Luxury movement for over 2 decades and is based in Hamilton, ON. Through the creation of her beautiful, authentic Indigenous fashion, accessories, lifestyle & wellness products (LODGE Soy Candles) under her label ‘DeMontigny’, she has not only been a trailblazer for Indigenous fashion nationally and internationally, but an example of reclaiming her identity as an Indigenous woman by utilizing her gifts as a designer and entrepreneur.
Also an accomplished artist, Angela was awarded a major public art commission in 2020 for her groundbreaking ‘All Our Relations’ sculpture that was installed on Hamilton’s waterfront on Sept. 30, 2023 – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – which brought together the Indigenous and Hamilton community to honour residential school survivors, the children who never made it home and to celebrate reconciliation in action. She is ecstatic to have been able to co-create a much-needed, public art legacy for the City which will also be a designated space for the urban Indigenous community to gather. Future plans are to create an education component and programming for youth. https://hamiltoncitymagazine.ca/waterfront-art-is-a-soaring-thoughtful-ode-to-indigenous-ways-of-thinking/
Dehmin Osawamick Cleland
Dehmin Osawamick Cleland, Ojibwe and Odawa from the Wikwemikong (Bay of Beavers) reserve of Manitoulin Island currently residing on Tkaronto. A true testament to her dedication, Dehmin commenced her artistic journey at the tender age of six, diligently crafting her own regalia pieces. Through steadfast commitment, she has honed her skills in sewing and beadwork, which remain integral to her artistic expression. Central to her creative endeavors are intricate floral designs and meticulously crafted beadwork, echoing the heritage and wisdom of the Anishnaabek (all Indigenous Nations)