Joyful but make it fashion: VIFW invites community to witness Indigenous Excellence
Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week returns after pandemic hiatus on November 28 - December 2, 2022
Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week co-producers Pam Baker (L) and Joleen Mitton (R) have over 50 years of experience in the fashion industry combined. Photo credit: Brian Nguyen.
VANCOUVER — After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) returns on Nov. 28 – Dec. 2, 2022 for its third edition, with the goal of rekindling joy in the face of grief. New collections from 32 Indigenous fashion designers from across Turtle Island will sashay the runway on models of First Nation / Métis / Inuit descent. In between shows, guests can shop for gifts from Indigenous vendors and enjoy musical performances by The Wolfpack, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Soul Shakers, DJ O Show, DJ Kookum, and more. The runway shows on Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and the closing event on Dec. 2 will be held at Performance Works. Full program and tickets are available at vifw.ca.
“For the Indigenous community, the last two years have been marked by grief. We lost many cherished elders and the gruesome legacy of residential schools saturated everything, so we decided to focus this year’s VIFW on joy and celebration,” said Joleen Mitton, founder and co-producer of VIFW and All My Relations Indigenous Society, the nonprofit organization behind the event. “We hope that everyone who attends will feel festive to be in community, and see us triumphant. We’ve been here since time immemorial, and we’re still here.”
As in previous editions, VIFW launches its opening night with the Red Dress Event, hosted by Lorelei Williams, founder of Butterflies in Spirit. Guests are encouraged to wear red in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ community. On Dec. 2, Van Vogue Jam,in partnership with VIFW, presents the Supernatural Kiki Ball. Hosted by Khelsilem 007, this closes the week with an extravagant evening of runway divas, sickening vogue battles, bending realness, and seductive bodies in competition for grand cash prizes.
From its inception in 2017, VIFW has proudly showcased contemporary Indigenous regalia that highlights awe-inspiring works of Indigenous artists and designers in the traditional Coast Salish territory. VIFW will feature a robust artisan market with 40 vendors selling jewelry, clothing, beauty products and other handcrafted goods, in time for the gift-giving holiday season.
“Promoting cultural appreciation and uplifting Indigenous designers on a global stage is at the heart of what motivates us at VIFW. It’s our duty to share our teachings to honour our ancestors, where we create a path towards understanding the designers. Our ways and art will not be lost,” said Himikalas, Pam Baker, Squamish / Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw fashion designer and co-producer of VIFW.
VIFW established the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week Mentorship Program, which provides 16 Indigenous youth and young adults a path to meaningful, fulfilling employment in event production, over the course of eight weeks. Now in its second year, this employment training program enables mentees to connect with Indigenous culture and ceremony through fashion, in a way that breaks intergenerational trauma and cycles of disconnection, child welfare, internalized racism and loss of culture.
“Mentorship is important in our culture. I am so grateful that my mentor, Pam Baker, has joined me as co-producer this year. I am benefiting from her 30+ years of experience in the fashion industry, and in turn, I am honoured to continue paying-it-forward by formalizing our long-standing Mentorship Program,” said Mitton, who is of Plains Cree, French, and Scottish heritage. “Fashion is a particularly powerful way for young Indigenous people to connect and reconnect with their heritage. It’s healing for Indigenous youth and young adults to be part of creating something that is meaningful to them, while having the opportunity to build marketable job and life skills.”
This year, VIFW also formed the Wisdom Circle to support the development and maintenance of a culturally safe, respectful, and responsible planning process and event that centers equity by honouring Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh protocols. The Wisdom Circle is made up of Indigenous leaders from the three Nations. Members include Pam Baker; Alexis McDonald; Charlene Alec; Debra Sparrow; Kris Archie; Ruth Alfred; and Maynard Johnny Jr, among others.
Kei Baritugo, BoldLove Communications | +1.604.719.7423 | firstname.lastname@example.org
VIFW is made possible by the generous support of:
Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Arts Presentation Fund; Inspirit Foundation; ACCESS Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society; City of Vancouver, Office of Cultural Services; Indigenous Tourism BC; Departure Lounge; BoldLove Communications
About Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week | vifw.ca | TikTok | Instagram | Facebook
Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) showcases the power, beauty and evolution of authentic Indigenous art and design. Founded in 2017 by Joleen Mitton, VIFW brings global recognition to Indigenous fashion designers and artisans while providing talent development to Indigenous youth through mentorship, safe business practices, cultural appreciation, fashion shows, arts and cultural events. VIFW seeks to facilitate reconciliation and deeper understanding between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities through fashion and community. VIFW is held on the unceded territories of xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səlílwn ətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. VIFW honours their vision, resilience and resistance and stand in solidarity with them.