Tag Archives: Aboriginal

Green Embassy of Australia highlights B.C. First Nation’s plight with Kinder Morgan

Australian designer Kuvan- Mills with the great-grandchildren of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BC, Canada. (Photo left by Arun Nevader / photo right by Dustin Photography)

Vancouver, B.C. — World Water Week has just concluded and although many events took place around the world close to rivers, oceans and streams, the fashion runway may be one of the last places on people’s minds when it comes to water and conservation.  Enter Zuhal Kuvan-Mills from Australia and her Green Embassy ‘ Empty Oceans’ collection…

Environmental activist, fashion designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. Currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia) she said she was compelled to return to west-coast Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters.  This is the Perth designer’s fourth time down the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week, and her Empty Ocean’s collection is in perfect sync with water conservation, and she wanted to share that with the Vancouver audience.

Zuhal Kuvan-Mills wears a Sea Shepherd Australia t-shirt with her models at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 26, 2017 (Photo: Dustin Photography)

“Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water,”  said Kuvan-Mills who connected with Charlene Aleck of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation during her stay.  Aleck’s daughter Ocean and granddaughter Maya, ad her niece Jasmine were asked to walk the runway.  The three, are the great (and great-great) grandchildren of a the late native leader, Chief Dan George.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Green Embassy runway show opened with a poignant video by Conservation International which reminded us of the beauty of the ocean, and why we need her. As the video closed,  the First Nation youth walked together down the runway in their traditional regalia covered by one large fishing net.

Maya, Ocean, and Jasmine of Tsleil-Waututh Nation on the runway for Green Embassy’s “Empty Oceans” collection at Vancouver Fashion Week (Photo: Arun Nevader)

“I am grateful to the work of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills,” said Charlee Aleck, who is an elected Councillor for her nation after the runway show, “‘Empty Oceans’ brings awareness to how we are treating/polluting our oceans, and the state of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She shares our concern and the imminent threats to our salmon bearing rivers and Salish Sea from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. ‘What will we leave our children?’ Empty nets?” continued Aleck. “I feel truly blessed to have met this beautiful soul, the passion Zuhal has put into this very important message – water is life!”

“I aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world,” says Zuhal. “The children under the fishing net represents the future of the First Nations, they are being destroyed by all types of abuse and destruction to oceans,” said Kuvan-Mills. “Black coloured fish net was selected to represent death and destruction to the natural environment (coastal waters) for First Nations. It was also over the children like a black cloud as now they are under great danger of losing their coastal waters to pollution with yet another Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

(Photos: Dustin Photography)

It is her hope to create a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Models graced the runway to a mix of sounds of First Nation drumbeats and Aboriginal didgeridoo. Fabrics were soft and flowing like water, in blues and ocean colours, or light and creamy like the sand and sea. Bow-ties, bows, sashes or sleeves were made from re-purposed fishing net remnants. Some dresses were made of recycled polyester sourced from trash, plastic bottles, ad drift / ghost fishing nets. There was the lightest of silk pieces that whispered down the runway, while the woven items were strong and edgy like the ocean’s coral and shells, or soft and warm like the sun’s reflection on the shoreline.

The fabric of many of the coats, jackets, hats and vests were collected, hand spun, processed and dyed by Kuvan-Mills herself on her farm in Perth where she raises alpacas, a domesticated species of South American camelid, similar to the llama. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables, finding inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues.

In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she explained her methods at Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald, and met with many designers, to inspire them to turn toward ‘slow fashion’ and join her for the event.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Real people – non models wear Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photos by Arun Nevader)

Kuvan-Mills’ commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love.

I am so very proud to be connected to this show and that my daughters were able to walk for this amazing designer who has so much heart, passion and vision… I look forward to visiting her  in Australia.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Listen to a short clip of the designer talking about her dying process at a Vancouver media event.

Watch video of part of the finale walk on the runway at VFW.

Me wearing Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. The show was on my birthday on March 26! In the photo taken by Victoria Clements I am holding a Harl Taylor BAG made from natural fibres from The Bahamas. The photo on right is the same vest for a photo I included in my article “Am I Anti-Pipeline” written on my blog about my thoughts around pipelines. It was taken on Burrard Inlet where I dragon boat and where the Kinder Morgan station is.

Read  Am I Anti-Pipeline?

Connect with Green Embassy:




BC Indigenous Leaders Win National Literary Award for “Unsettling Canada”

Co-Authors: Arthur Manuel (left) and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson (right)

News Release: Two prominent BC Indigenous leaders, Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson and Arthur Manuel, have won the Canadian History Association Aboriginal Book Award for their co-authored work Unsettling Canada; A National Wake-up Call.

The award was announced at the Canadian History Association organization’s annual gala in Calgary on May 31. The jury said it was “impressed by how the work traced the struggles for Indigenous rights and land claims in Canada during a time-period that frankly scholars (especially historians) have neglected, and from such a personal and significantly Indigenous-insider perspective. It was fascinating to read.“

Unsettling Canada, which tells the story of the past 50 years of struggle for Indigenous rights, also lays out a course for the future relations between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. The book had already been named one of the top 100 political books by The Hills Times and one of the top six non-fiction books by Canadian Dimension Magazine and it has been widely praised.

Naomi Klein described Unsettling Canada  as “wise, enlightening and tremendously readable” providing “the back story of both grassroots and backroom struggles that created the context in which we find ourselves today, one in which a new generation of First Nations leaders is demanding sovereignty and self-determination, and more and more non-Indigenous Canadians finally understand that huge swaths of this country we call Canada is not ours—or our government’s—to sell.”

The award-winning Indigenous writer, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson described Unsettling Canada as “a breathtakingly beautiful story of Indigenous resistance, strength, and movement building, a critical conversation that Canada and Indigenous peoples must have because it is centred on land, and, therefore, it is one of the most important books on Indigenous politics I’ve ever read.”

Arthur Manuel said he is “very encouraged by the degree that non-Indigenous peoples are recognizing that we need to have a fundamental change in this country and this award is another indication of that.“

Grand Chief Derrickson said that although they had not written the book for an academic audience, he was very pleased to see that it worked on that level. “This book has been reaching Indigenous peoples and Canadians from many backgrounds because it looks at not only where we are today but it offers a look ahead at where we can be in the future.“

Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Derrickson are now working on a follow up book that sets out in more precise terms how Canada and Indigenous peoples can honourable resolve the conflicts described in Unsettling Canada, and also points out the dangers to both sides if they fail to find just solutions to the Aboriginal title and rights issues.

Fashion Show to Raise Funds for Canada’s Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

Aboriginal beauty and 2015 Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull, will grace the runway at Fashion Speaks, a show to raise funds and awareness for families of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls of Canada on September 16, 2015 in Kamloops, BC. Ashley Callingbull will be vying for Mrs. Universe in Belarus this August.

A  fundraising fashion show called Fashion Speaks set to raise funds and awareness for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, Girls and Families of Canada will take place on Wednesday evening, September 16th at the Kamloops Indian Band Powwow Grounds in Kamloops, BC.   A four directions runway will showcase Aboriginal couture fashions, footwear, and accessories.

Designers to be featured are: Earthline Contemporary Aboriginal; Fashions by Shannon Kilroy; Cree Nisgaa Clothing by Linda Lava; First Lady by Jill Setah; Rev/Evo Designs by Nadine Spence; Ab-original Threadz by Teresa Walker; Ringing Bell Robes by Lyn Kay; Touch of Culture by Pam Baker; and Timeless Shadows by Tracey George Heese.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson is said to be providing the welcome, and other speakers will include Diena Jules, the RCMP among others yet to be announced. The event will also feature designer/artists sales booths, information tables, and displays.  A silent auction will be held, with items donated items from across North America.

Ashley Callingbull who  represented Canada in the 2015 Mrs. Universe pageant and won will be the special guest model and there are opportunities for both male and female models to participate. Organizers are seeking volunteers to assist with the event.

The event Facebook page states that the Fashion Speaks event will:

Speak to all our thoughts of hope and wishes for a better future, for our aboriginal females, babies, girls, youth and elders,

Speak by remembering the loss of so many of our aboriginal women and girls gone missing and murdered, and their families,

Speak to us all of every nationality and gender to work together as family, community and as Nations to protect our women and girls of Canada.

Speak to all four directions and the creator to protect us all and to support each-other on this journey to be treated with respect on our mother land.

Speak to ourselves to be honoured and proud to be aboriginal, that we can all make a difference and change for a healthier future, we are all worth it.

More information and applications for the event can be found at http://www.headhuntershair.com/ or contact Kim Coltman of Headhunters Hair-salon and Wellness Center by email kgcoltman@hotmail.ca

Organizers say they  are proud and honoured to have partnered with the Kamloops Indian Band, His & Her Photography, Main Street Clothing, The Zoo Ice Cream Parlor, CIFM-FM, CKBZ-FM, and CFJC TV.  All proceeds will go to Families of Sisters in Spirit

Pan Am Games follows First Nations protocol

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Regional Chief Day & other leadership at Three Fires Ceremony Pan Am Games  (Twitter Photo)
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Regional Chief Day & other leadership at Three Fires Ceremony Pan Am Games (Twitter Photo)

“When visiting indigenous territory that isn’t your own, the protocol is to acknowledge whose territory you are on and thank them for allowing you there. If done properly, they welcome you in return,” explained an CBC News article on the opening of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada this week.

This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

Using sacred tradition the Mississaugas of the New Credit held a Three Fires Ceremony on three sites that day to start the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, marking the fact that the 16 sites of the games are in its traditional lands that extend south to Long Point on Lake Erie, east to the Niagara River and River Rouge and west to the River Thames.

The three fire locations are: The Toronto Islands, the modern Mississaugas of the New Credit territory and Fort York.

The fires being symbolic of the Mississaugas traditional and political alliance with the Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi Nations, they will be kept burning until the end of the Pan Am Games.

July 10: This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. (Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation )
July 10: This year’s torch relay was received by Chief LaForme of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. (Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation )

President of the Native Women’s Association named Women of the Year

micheleThe Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in Ottawa has just announced that their president Michèle Audette, has been selected ‘Woman of the Year 2014’ by the Montreal Council of Women (MCW). “President Audette, along with Nakuset from the Native women’s shelter of Montreal, are being honoured for their exceptional work, dedication and perseverance both have shown over the course of their career to improve the lives of Aboriginal women,” said the statement.

The MWC publicly recognizes and honours exceptional women who have made significant contributions to society. The recipient(s) of this prestigious award is an exceptional woman, who through her daily actions, her strength of character and political path, contributes to the advancement and well-being of women. She is a role model, who inspires others to excel, has worked to facilitate the advancement of women by breaking down barriers; has outstanding leadership skills, courage and resourcefulness, has initiated innovative actions, programs and is an inspiration to others.

The NWAC said it is proud and very pleased that President Audette is being recognized for her many achievements and is being honoured for the work that she is doing to improve the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada.

In September 2014 Audette told the Canadian press that she would be relinquishing her post to run for the federal Liberals in the next election.

“The Native Women’s Association has been one of the loudest voices calling on the Conservative government to hold a national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls,” writes the Huffington Post.

Quebec: Atikamekw First Nation Declares Sovereignty Over Its Territory

QUEBEC – The Atikamekw First Nation has declared its sovereignty over 80,000 square kilometres of territory and says any development in that area must get its approval.

Armed with a Supreme Court of Canada judgment recognizing ancestral rights for First Nations in British Columbia, the Atikamekw want to have their say on projects located in the Nitaskinan region.

“Gone are the days of negotiating the rights of the Atikametw, which have not been surrendered, for the benefit of a state that imposes its rules as if such rights do not exist,” Awashish said at a news conference Monday.

“Our jurisdiction, our rules and our conditions must be respected.”

MORE:  Atikamekw First Nation Declares Sovereignty Over Its Territory.

2014 Sisters-In-Spirit (SIS) Vigil to be held October 4th

Photo: Yukon News
Photo: Yukon News

Press release: The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased to announce the 9th annual October 4th 2014 Sisters-In-Spirit (SIS) Vigil.

Each year, family members, Aboriginal community members, and concerned citizens gather for a vigil on October 4th on Parliament Hill to honour the growing number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. Vigils take place in many communities across Canada as well as internationally. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and provide support to families who have lost a loved one.

The SIS vigils are one way to educate the public on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, rally support and compel the government to respond. NWAC is very grateful for the immense community support and participation given each year.

For those thinking about hosting a SIS vigil for the first time, or perhaps are thinking about hosting a different type of event this year, please know that any event that moves this issue forward is a success and is of great value to everyone!

NWAC encourages all types of events on and around October 4th. A moment of silence or a candlelight vigil, for example, can be more solemn and peaceful events that may focus on honouring a particular loved one or lost sisters as a whole. A rally and/or march can be very powerful, especially if you wish to address legislative changes or challenge the status quo. Some October 4th organizers have combined all types of events. Two groups, for example, may host two different events of different times in the same city. Often times, these events serve to complement one another as community members have a dual opportunity to participate, first in a rally and march where the goal is to raise public awareness and promote social change, followed by a peaceful traditional candlelight vigil that is more focused on healing and families.

NWAC’s goal throughout this movement is to promote inclusiveness and reach as many Canadians as possible. Last year, we had an unprecedented 216 vigils take place across the country and internationally. NWAC is hoping to surpass this number in 2014.


We invite you, your organization and your community to join with us in solidarity on October 4th 2014.

When you register your SIS vigil with NWAC, you become part of a movement for social change!

This year, NWAC is offering SIS vigil kits to the first 100 registrants. The 2014 SIS vigil kits will include 50 SIS balloons and 50 October 4th SIS buttons along with other information to make your vigil a successful and memorable event for all.

To ensure you receive your free 2014 SIS Vigil Kit, act fast and register today!

SIS Vigil Registration Forms are available at: http://nwac.ca/programs/2014-vigil-registration

Forms can be returned to Cassondra Barnaby by Fax at 613.722.7687 or by e-mail at reception@nwac.ca. If you have any questions Cassondra can also be reached by telephone at 1.800.461.4043 ext. 220