Astokomii Smith, of Siksika Nation, wiped away tears as she touched the bright red fabrics and fringes of three outfits at the Alberta Boot Company.
“I’m thankful and I know a lot of work went into this by many different people,” she said.
On the dress, the figures near the top of the collar represent the five tribes of Treaty 7. The butterflies scattered around the sleeves symbolize Smith’s fancy shawl dance, and three bears at the hem of the dress come from historic teepee designs.
“At a point, bears and people lived together, and at one point, the people were starving. So the bears provided food for them,” Smith explained. “So we honour them by putting the bears on the teepee.”
A collaborative effort
Beadwork by Smith’s grandmother, Darlene Munro, is featured on her outfits.
“[It] is really special to me, and it’s actually the first time that it’s been done on the parade leathers,” Smith said.
In addition to Munro’s work, Smith’s aunt, Karen Ayoungman, beaded the hemlines.
It took Janine Stabner, of Janine’s Custom Creations, a month to create the leathers.
The parade boots were designed and made by the Alberta Boot Company.
Stacey Running Rabbit beaded the crown, as she has for the past decade.
“This is only going to happen to me once and the fact that so many people put their time and effort into it to make this for me, it’s really special,” Smith said.
Stabner said she was covered in goosebumps when the leathers were unveiled.
“Every year that I do this, it’s such an honour to do that and work with so many very creative and gifted people… It’s a good community of very talented women,” she said.
“It’s a very special moment because that’s who you’re doing it for. It’s got so much meaning behind it that you just want it to come across as something really special for everybody involved.”