Fashion designer reviving indigenous languages one garment at a time
Like many indigenous people in Canada, Brandi Morin did not grow up speaking the language of her ancestors – the result of decades of government policies meant to strip the country’s aboriginal people of their identity.
Those policies mean that although nearly 2 million people in Canada identify as indigenous, only 263,000 can speak an indigenous language. Community leaders and government officials have attempted to fight the decline, allowing indigenous languages in parliament and proposing funding boostsfor language education.
But ordinary people are also joining in the fight, using apps, immersion programs – and even fashion – to rekindle interest in the languages.
“Everything about us as human beings is connected, at the core, to our language and the way that we express ourselves,” said Morin. “It’s how we share our history, our present and our future.”
Morin’s contribution to Canada’s “indigenous renaissance” is a clothing line producing garments emblazoned with Cree and Mohawk words and phrases. The company’s name – Mixed Blood Apparel – refers to her Métis heritage: an ethnic group in Canada that shares lineage with both European and indigenous ancestors.