By Chevi Rabbit
For Ponoka News
Maskwacis has seen a number of entrepreneurs who create ready-made apparel clothing designs but each marketing strategy tells a different story, each very different from another.
“Stay Rooted” was created by Nêhiýaw (Cree) mother-daughter duo Kiya Bruno and Barbara Dumigan-Jackson whose mission is to spread awareness to help save our kikâwînaw (Mother Earth).
Dumigan-Jackson was raised in Onihcikiskwapiwin (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) and kâ-miyosicik kinosêwak (Good Fish Lake First Nation) in Treaty 6 Territory and Bruno hails from Nipisikohpahk (Samson Cree Nation).
“We are called ‘Stay Rooted’ because we don’t just want to plant trees and protect our nipiy (water), but we are also rooted within our culture, teachings, stories, language and traditions,” said Dumigan-Jackson.
“We want to share the importance of embracing culture through meaningful designs and apparel.”
She says that being rooted provides us with a sense of belonging and helps us remember who we are and where we come from as Nêhiyaw (Cree) people, and as Nêhiýaw people, we are people of the land.
She further explained that with every purchase, Stay Rooted is able to take action and give back to the people and kikâwînaw asking (Mother Earth).
For every item that is bought, Stay Rooted will plant two trees in the spring and summer of 2021.
“We also think giving back to our First Nation communities is fundamental. A portion of proceeds from every sale will go towards a nipiy (water) fund to help a First Nation community where we can help a family obtain clean drinking water,” said Dumigan-Jackson.
Another budding clothing apparel entrepreneur is VJ Curry who is the owner of “Infamous.”
He says his brand speaks to his upbringing as an Indigenous orphan. His mother is among Canada’s Missing and Murdered Women.
He spent his teenage years on the streets and surviving Canada’s child welfare system.
“I was born in Vancouver and brought back to Maskwacis to my Kokum (grandma) as an orphan,” said Curry.
“I grew up in foster homes when I wasn’t with my Kokum. I spent my teenage years on the streets and that’s where a lot of my saying for my designs come from — surviving the streets and poverty.”
Curry initially started his brand in honour of a relative who passed away.
“I wanted people to know who he was and what happened to the artist for my designs. I want people to know what a talented person he was. I used to tell him my design ideas and he’d make them for me.”
Curry also wanted to create something meaningful for his children.
“I grew up in poverty and didn’t want them growing up with nothing like I did. So, I’m trying my best to make this company a success,” he said.
“It hasn’t been easy. I don’t get a lot of support in my life but it’s been that way my whole life. So, it doesn’t really matter because I know how to survive. My designs are made for urban Indigenous peoples.”