VIFW: Our Mission
The mission of VIFW is to bring global recognition to Indigenous fashion designers and artisans from the Northwest coast and across Turtle Island; to celebrate and make visible Indigenous arts, culture, community, and wisdom; and to facilitate Indigenous-Ally relationships through collaboration, education and representation.
Fashion expresses identity, place and personal creativity. Humans adorn themselves with clothing, jewelry and talismans to explore symbolism, beauty, and belonging as our forms of living and presenting evolve. Behind the scenes, fashion expresses political, environmental and economic statements of land, exchange and ally-ship to its original people. Contemporary Indigenous fashion mixes the legacy of Indigenous artistry with modern day high regalia and street styles: it goes beyond surface beauty and highlights how worn identity can build connection with Indigenous values, wisdom, empowerment, and history.
VIFW showcases the power and beauty of authentic Indigenous art and design by supporting talent development and organizing showcases throughout the year, culminating with Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.
VIFW calls on all lovers of Indigenous art and design to buy directly from Indigenous artists and suppliers, and to build pathways to Indigenous sustainability and enterprise. If you love Indigenous art, honour those who create it by being in direct relationship with them. Do not accept manufactured versions without research, and herald the wisdom of slow fashion. VIFW’s long-term vision is for Indigenous-owned social enterprise that galvanizes and champions Indigenous art, designs, and local and international identity.
Vancouver’s first Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) launched in July 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Museum of Anthropolgy (MOA). VIFW was an independent production, but later also partnered with the City of Vancouver’s The Drum is Calling Festival. It had 4,550 people attend this event over the course of 5 days. The second VIFW happened in November of 2019 and had similar attendance numbers. The opening gala was held at The Orpheum and featured a powerful red dress ceremony to commemorate and remember the many missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada (MMIW).
In Memory of Taran J Kootenhayoo
Taran J. Kootenhayoo was an amazing friend, VIFW model, and artist. He never failed to make us laugh. All of his friends and family miss him dearly.
Meet The Team
Joleen Mitton, East Vancouver born and bred, is no less proud of her Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Heritage. She began modeling at age 15 when a Vancouver talent scouts pulled her out of a crowd of people at the PNE. She feels extremely fortunate to have succeeded in her career as a model.
Joleen’s passion for sport, art, fashion and design and social justice has lead her to focus on producing Aboriginal Fashion Shows and Basketball Tournaments across the city. She is dedicated to improving the lives of people in her community, working intimately with a number of local non-profits, putting her PR, marketing, social media and producing skills to good use.
Maynard Johnny Jr.
Maynard Johnny Jr. is of Coast Salish descent on his father’s side from Penelakut Island, and of Kwakwaka’wakw descent on his mother’s side from Cape Mudge on Quadra Island. Maynard’s work includes logo and identity designs for a variety of organizations and companies. Additionally, his works can be found on movie sets (Say It Ain’t So) and television series (Grey’s Anatomy). Maynard has also had the honor of painting an eight foot by three foot Coho Salmon sculpture that had been donated to the new World Trade Centre in New York following the 9/11 tragedy. Maynard’s work has also been highlighted on cedar chests gifted to the nominees, presenters, and performers at the 2009 Juno Awards in Vancouver.
VIFW General Manager
Jocelyn Macdougall delights in bringing together interesting, meaningful, productive groups of people who are striving to make the world better. As an independent consultant in event strategy and facilitation, Jocelyn works to connect people through insightful and compassionate discussion. She values equity and inclusion as foundational, and believes that getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a necessary skill in today’s divided world. For Jocelyn, the arts are a price-of-admission component for a sane, healthy society, and she has a unique propensity to enable self and social reflection.
She is also blessed to sing her heart out with seven other exceptional musicians in Vancouver’s hottest funk and Motown band, Queer As Funk.
Christine Leo is an Elder from the Lil’wat Nation (formerly known as Mt. Currie). Her background is in Aboriginal Human Resource Development, and she is currently an Elder at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in Burnaby. Christine is the Designer Coordinator for 2022 Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.
Principal Makeup Artist
Marlayna is an urban Indigenous woman of Quinault <Quileute, Coast Salish + Pascua Yaqui decent + part German European. She is currently reconnecting to her identity & cultures through healing & learning while mentoring and supporting others to do the same.
As an agency-represented celebrity makeup artist/hair stylist with over 20 years of experience in the fashion and film industry, she brings an extensive amount of knowledge, positive energy, and inspiring leadership to all the fashion shows she is involved with. Marlayna also wears many hats: she is a trauma informed holistic healer, instructor, mentor, advisor, director, graphic designer, and business owner.
Principal Hair Stylist
Krystal is from the Treaty Six Nation and currently resides on the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Katzie, Tsawwassen, Kwikwetlam territories. She is a mother of two and has been a hair stylist for 8 years. Krystal runs a small business called Simply Style Mobile Hair Design and enjoys the creativity of doing hair for fashion events like VIFW.
She also works for Skookum Surrey, FRAFCA as the Cree language coordinator and does some research work for SFU.
Tiana Oostindie is a 26-year old Métis woman born in Whitehorse, Yukon. Her Métis roots come from the Treaty Six territory in Saskatchewan. She now resides within the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as she works and studies.
Caroline Phelps (QwAACWA) is from Ahousaht and Katzie and always acknowledges her Hawaiian Ancestors (as one of her great grandparents is from Hawaii). Caroline currently works for Canoe Cultures and is one of the organizers for the Four Fires Festival. Her art and medium is in quilting, which she has been doing for over 25 years. Caroline is also in a new role as the Artist-In-Residence program coordinator at Skwachays Lodge based in Vancouver BC.
Toni was born and raised in Vancouver, and is from the Haíɫzaqv nation. She is currently working as a teacher and volunteers as a mentor. She has a background of working with youth for 10 years at drop-ins, non-profits, and mentorship programs. She has dipped her toes in the modeling world at community events that Joleen has invited her into. Her heart is in support the mentees and that they are able to learn and grow throughout the program.
Music & Artist Coordinator
Candace Curr (Tlaiisma-uksu) is Ditidaht/ Ahousat from Nuu-cha-Nulth territory on Vancouver Island. Candace is a singer/songwriter for both Withe and Wolf and the Raven and has been performing since 2014. Currently, Candace works as an Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker in School District 39. She loves to be involved in events that brings together community and a sense of belonging through connecting to culture and is VIFW music/ artist coordinator
Svea Poulsen (Huuyee Jaad – Raven Woman) is Haida from the Yahgulaanas Raven Clan in Massett, Haida Gwaii. She is an Interior Designer who specializes in lighting design. Currently, Svea works as an Account Executive at an Indigenous-owned office furniture company, Chase Office Interiors. She loves to be involved in cultural events and has recently joined the Haida dance group, The Rainbow Creek Dancers. Svea is grateful to be part of such an amazing team to help Joleen and Pam’s vision become reality.