Ayinwinisa event brings fashion and language together to celebrate Indigenous culture

·2 min read
Cheyenne Rain LeGrande is the driving force behind the Ayiwinisa Fashion Show.  (Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/Ayiwinisa Fashion Show - image credit)
Cheyenne Rain LeGrande is the driving force behind the Ayiwinisa Fashion Show. (Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/Ayiwinisa Fashion Show - image credit)

Cree fashionista and artist Cheyenne Rain LeGrande's first fashion show will be a celebration of Indigenous languages displayed through fashion.

LeGrande is the driving force behind the Ayiwinisa Fashion Show this weekend at Beaver Hills House Park.

As curatorial assistant for Latitude 53 art gallery, this isn't her first event, but it is LeGrande's first fashion show.

"I think Indigenous fashion is just incredible and so powerful and beautiful," LeGrande said. "And to have these languages be visible in that form kind of created this idea."

Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show
Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show

The show is made up of four Indigenous designers.

Heather Crowshoe Couture will be celebrating Indigenous high fashion with Blackfoot designs, Evan Ducharme will be showing his most elegant Métis garments. There will also be bold trench coats with a Cree flair from Mobilize and Luxx Ready to Wear's Cree printed garments.

Each designer is showcasing their Indigenous language in their designs.

Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show
Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show

"It's something that is part of our daily lives. Something that allows us to speak to our identities," she said.

The languages featured are Cree, Michif and Blackfoot.

LISTEN | Cheyenne Rain LeGrande's fashion show is a celebration of Indigenous fashion and languages:

"I thought specifically these designers had garments that celebrated the Indigenous languages," she told CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

"Within each one of our languages, there's so much history embedded in there."

Indigenous Languages

The name for the show Ayiwinisa (pronounced eye-WIN-sah) is Cree for clothing. LeGrande first thought the name would come across as too literal, but then she spoke to her mother, who speaks Cree.

"She actually said that the meaning of the word has so much more meaning and layered meanings within the word," LeGrande said.

Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show
Cheyenne Rain LeGrande/ Ayiwinisa Fashion Show

Representing Indigenous languages was important to LeGrande who does not speak Cree. But the language still holds a lot of importance to her, and is a big part of her work.

"I think a big reason why myself and a lot of Indigenous people from the same generation that do not speak their language is because of colonization," she said.

Although fashion shows are usually held indoors, LeGrande always knew she wanted hers to be outdoors.

"It just adds an element of the history of our people," she said.

LeGrande said she had always thought of Beaver Hills House Park as a space where "Indigenous folks have gathered." So, when it came to hosting her own show, she knew exactly where to hold it.

LeGrande's show starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Beaver Hills House Park.

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