Kitigan Zibi school partners with Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger to push fashion design program


Algonquin students from the Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan School in Quebec held their first-ever fashion show thanks in part to a partnership with some pretty big hitters in the fashion world including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.

“This is important because the people behind these brands, they know about these students and they’re very eager to help them access opportunities in the fashion industry,” said Josee Lusignan, found of First Peoples, an organization that advocates and promotes education and reconciliation through various projects.

The fashion show kicked off with students strutting onto the catwalk wearing kokum scarf designs.

There was also beadwork, bow tie fashions and trendy dresses to show off as well.

A highlight was t-shirts designed with “No More Stolen Sisters” as a tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women, including two of their own in the community, Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander who vanished in 2008 at the age of 16.

Teacher and organizer of the fashion show, Kelly Diabo, said she’s proud of the student’s work and said it took a lot of effort to complete the sewing project during the pandemic including the machines needed to get the work done.

“Some of them are even able to sew leather and so what I’m being told is that the students will be able to sew the leather mitts and moccasins and things like that using the sewing machine, which will make it a little bit easier for them,” said Diabo.

“Instead of sewing with their fingers by hand, which they have done moccasins and they’ve also done mittens. So that takes a while and the students, they get tired of like stabbing themselves, I think they will be really excited to use.”

Grade 10 student, Maxie Meness said he enjoyed participating in the show and will make use of the machines in the future.

“I was making a ribbon shirt myself and although I didn’t get to complete it because, you know, we didn’t have that much sewing machines and we’re a pretty big class, if we get some more sewing machines,” he said.

“I feel like, yeah, for sure, I would love to be a part of that.”

Diabo is hopeful to do another fashion show next year.