Happy National Ribbon Skirt Day 2023

Ribbon Skirt by Terrence Gardner

Communities and media feeds are full of beautiful ribbon skirts today and it is good medicine. Many colors and designs like those by Terrence Gardner show the importance of the ribbon skirt making traditions and stories. Skirts express identity and reflect diverse histories and distinct cultures, that are unique to the First Peoples of the territories now referred to as North America. PM Justin Trudeau made a statement while declaring the first National Ribbon Skirt Day, today January 4, 2023.

Above is Isabelle Kulak, in front of her school with Eunice Ketchemonia-Cote, a ribbon skirt maker, right, her daughter Heather Ketchemonia, second from left, and mother Stella Ketchemonia. CBC Story

‘National Ribbon Skirt Day originates with the story of Isabella Kulak. A member of Cote First Nation, Saskatchewan, Isabella was shamed for wearing her handmade ribbon skirt to a formal wear day at her elementary school. Traditionally worn by First Nations and Métis peoples, ribbon skirts are a centuries-old symbol of identity, adaptation, and survival for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people, and represents a direct connection to Mother Earth.’ (CBC)

Ribbon Skirt Maker, Terrence Gardner

‘Ribbon skirts have different meanings for each person who wears them, but for many, the skirt is a symbol of resilience. In the 1800s, some Indigenous ceremonies — and the clothing and ceremonial items associated with them — were banned by the Canadian government under the terms of what was known as the Potlatch Law. Ceremonies wouldn’t be legal again until 1951.’ (CBC)

Ribbon Skirts are powerful ceremony and should be respected as such. Skirts can be offered as gifts. If you are a non-Indigenous person wishing to wear a ribbon skirt, it is strongly recommended that you take time to reflect and to think about; why that is and if it is the most considered course of action? Is it the best way you can support the resilience of Indigenous peoples and cultures and work towards reconciliation?

‘Jan. 4 is National Ribbon Skirt Day, a day where Indigenous women across the country are encouraged to wear their traditional regalia to celebrate their culture, their strength and their connection as women.’ (CBC)