Indigenous women walking their dreams on international fashion runway
- Jeanelle Mandes | March 24, 2016
Shasta Mike and Elicia Munro-Sutherland, both 22 years old from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation, were picked along with a couple other Canadian models to be a part of the Global Indigenous Fashion Runway in the Virgin Australia’s Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Cultural Program with the show starting on March 8th. The models left last week to live their dream to be a part of an Indigenous fashion show. Mike has chased the dream since she was a little girl and would look for opportunities to gain modeling experience.
“I did a few hair photoshoots for my sister Loressa Mike when I was a teenager and in September 2015 I met the ladies of Her 4 Direction Fashion Incubator, and Helen Oro, one of the founders, took me under her wing. Then I was signed with Infinity Management in November 2015,” she says.
Helen Oro is showcasing her newest collection Modern Traditions at the show. She has been busy building her brand for two years through fashion shows and showcasing her collections throughout Canada and the US and now overseas.
Mike, mother to a two-year-old little girl named Kamiya, doesn’t look up to any celebrity super models in particular but she’s inspired by the local models from Saskatchewan including Nikita Kahpeaysewat. She hopes she too can inspire the people watching her chase her dream.
“I plan to mentor and empower the youth from Beardy’s and Okemasis to follow their dreams of becoming a part of the fashion industry,” she says. “Don't be afraid to take that leap towards following your dreams. Don't let negative people or opinions stop you from pursuing modelling and being successful. In reality, the only person keeping you from your dreams is yourself and how you overcome obstacles.”
Munro-Sutherland’s similar advice to all the younger girls and women who want to pursue a career in fashion modeling is to follow your dreams and to never give up.
“There are so many directions you can go with modeling and the opportunities are endless. Dream big, work hard, & stay humble,” she says.
Since she was a little girl, her parents would take her to auditions in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon.
“I would be asked to sign with agencies but my parents could never afford it so now that I am older and I can do that for myself and that's what I am doing pursuing a lifelong dream,” she says.
Munro-Sutherland, also a mother to two little girls, hopes to return to school in the fall to take Social Work. In her spare time, she is a photographer for her own company called EliciaMunro Photography.
Both of the models say training for the fashion show is hard work that includes walking, posture, facial expressions and learning professionalism in the fashion industry but also a part of the amazing experience.
“We already have blisters on our feet from training. It’s hard and it hurts but it’s definitely worth it,” Munro-Sutherland says.
Mike is hoping to take home unforgettable memories from a momentous experience and establish bonds with the other participants.
“I'm hoping to make friendships and connections with the models, designers and organizers of the Global Indigenous Runway. I already learned so much from the runway training, so I'm excited that I get this experience.”