KAMLOOPS — Not every fashion show carries a message beyond today's trends, but the next show in Kamloops hopes to communicate a larger issue to those who attend.
Nadine Spence, an aboriginal clothing designer from Spences Bridge, is dedicating her latest show to raise money and awareness for Aboriginal missing and murdered women and children.
Her original clothing designs for her label Rev/Evo designs will be showcased at the Thompson Rivers University Barber Centre and again that day, September 16, at Fashion Speaks B.C. at the Powwow Grounds. Among the models will be recently crowned Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull and her mother Mrs. North America Lisa Ground.
Spence is representing the Secwepemc Nation and Nlaka’max and while she plans on showcasing beautiful handmade pieces of clothing, she also hopes the pieces will showcase the issues Aboriginal women and children face.
“I don’t want people to see what we’ve been through and think that we’re not people. I want people to understand that Aboriginal women are important - that we’re not dirty or ugly or whores to be used or to be beaten or forgotten,” Spence says through tears. “I cry every day. I have to.”
Spence lost three of her family members to violence. Her grandmother, 16-year-old Cherish Oppenheim and 12-year-old Monica Jack who died on the Highway of Tears.
To help her carry the message, a sturdy group of volunteers — Nicole Wiliams, Cheryl Billy-Gilbert, Nicole Cahoose and Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour — have helped Spence develop the show.
McNeil-Seymour plans to speak to support the victims who are transgender or two-spirited and face discrimination.
Spence has been working on the designs for 20 to 40 pieces which will be for sale following the show. She says all the clothing is made from environmentally-friendly fabrics, right down to the dye. A touch, she says, is imperative to the message.
“As an aboriginal woman, the whole component when it comes to women is to be really connected to the land. Women are the protectors of the land; the backbone of the community. They give life. If they’re destroyed, so is the world,” Spence says.
While a designer by trade, Spence identifies herself as an activist and hopes those attending will walk away thinking more about the issues of violence and discrimination.
"I want people to feel jarred. I want them to cry — feel upset. Things have to change. I’m a bully for justice,” she says.
Spence's first show at TRU will take place at 6 p.m. The second show at the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc powwow grounds begins at 7 p.m. and will feature the following designers:
Earthline Contemporary Aboriginal Fashions by Shannon Kilroy, Cree Nisgaa Clothing by Linda Lava, First Lady by Jill Setah, Ab-original Threadz by Teresa Walker, Ringing Bell Robes by Lyn Kay, Touch of Culture by Pam Himikalas Baker, Bruno Henry Designs (Ontario), Six Red Beads by Tishna Marlow (Alberta), Wolf Kwe Fashions and Designs for life Regina Saskatchewan), Timeless Shadows by Tracey George Heese (Regina Saskatchewan), Warrior Status by Sun Rose Iron Shell (Denver Colorado).
For more information on both shows and where to buy tickets, visit the Fashion Speaks BC Facebook page. A portion of the funds generated will go towards a charity supporting victims of violence.
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