Celebrating Tradition: Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Unveils Ribbon Skirt Exhibit for National Ribbon Skirt Day

Published on January 4, 2024

Press release eng

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is delighted to announce a special exhibit showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Ribbon Skirts in honour of National Ribbon Skirt Day on January 4.

This second anniversary of National Ribbon Skirt Day traces back to the poignant experience of Isabella Kulak, a young Indigenous girl from Cote First Nation who, during her elementary school's "formal dress day," wore a ribbon skirt only to be shamed and told it didn’t count as "formal dress." The incident sparked a wave of reactions on social media, led to a school march, and fueled a collective effort urging the federal government to officially acknowledge the cultural significance of the ribbon skirt.

In response, Senator Mary Jane McCallum championed Bill S-219, titled "An Act respecting a National Ribbon Skirt Day," as a tribute to Isabella Kulak. The bill garnered unanimous support in Parliament and was successfully enacted into law in December 2022, with the first National Ribbon Skirt Day acknowledged on January 4, 2023.

Ribbon Skirt Day is a significant occasion that pays homage to the strength, resilience, and cultural diversity of Indigenous women across Canada. The Ribbon Skirt holds profound cultural significance, representing a powerful symbol of identity, and empowerment through traditional regalia.

Many different Indigenous groups across Turtle Island have a tradition of making and wearing Ribbon Skirts, most usually for ceremony. Over time they have evolved from buckskin Plains dresses to include skirts made from leather and fur or colourful fabrics. Ribbon Skirts are worn during ceremony or Sweat Lodge as well as during important times in a woman’s life like pregnancies or her moon-time. Ribbon Skirts symbolize sacred traditions and are an embodiment of resilience to colonial cultural erasure.

NWAC’s Ribbon Skirt exhibit will be displayed in the vault on the first floor of our head office at 120 Promenade du Portage, in Gatineau, Quebec and will run for one month, beginning on December 21. Visitors are invited to explore the history and creativity behind these beautifully adorned skirts, gaining a deeper understanding of the cultural narratives they carry.

NWAC encourages the public to join in commemorating National Ribbon Skirt Day by visiting the exhibit, engaging in discussions about cultural heritage, and sharing their experiences on social media using the hashtag #NationalRibbonSkirtDay.

About The Native Women’s Association of Canada

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a national Indigenous organization representing political voices of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse people in Canada. NWAC is inclusive of First Nations—on- and off-reserve, status, non-status, and disenfranchised—Inuit, and Métis. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on a collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse people within their respective communities and Canadian societies.

À propos de l'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada

L'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) est une organisation autochtone nationale qui représente la voix politique des femmes, des filles, des transgenres, des bispirituels et des personnes de sexe différent au Canada, y compris les membres des Premières nations vivant dans les réserves et hors réserve, les Indiens inscrits et non inscrits, les personnes privées de leurs droits, les Métis et les Inuits. Regroupant des organisations de femmes autochtones de tout le pays, l'AFAC a été fondée dans le but collectif d'améliorer, de promouvoir et de favoriser le bien-être social, économique, culturel et politique des femmes autochtones au sein de leurs communautés respectives et des sociétés canadiennes.