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Mi’kmaw artists using traditional beading to raise money for clean drinking water

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WATCH: Two local Mi'kmaw bead artists whose work has appeared on Nike shoes are now starting an initiative to raise money for clean water in Indigenous communities – Jul 16, 2021

Husband and wife artist team, Cheyenne Isaac-Gloade and Garrett Gloade from Millbrook First Nation in Nova Scotia are working with Nike, the U.S.-based athletic company, to raise money for a good cause.

The artists use traditional Mi’kmaw beading on white leather Air Force 1 shoes, with proceeds from their funds going toward clean drinking water in Indigenous communities.

The idea came about when the Gloades were featured in local hip-hop star Classified’s music video Powerless. The video was produced to honor and educate the public on the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

While on the set of the video shoot, the Gloades met Nova Scotia-born director Andy Hines, where they say an instant friendship was born. Hines arranged a partnership with Nike, who supplied the couple with shoes to bead.

READ MORE: Mi’kmaw elder left speechless as KPMB chosen for new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia design

“The importance behind it was to kind of bring back the old style of Mi’kmaw art and push it to the forefront in a really modern and fun way and what a better than Air Force 1s? It’s super trendy. It’s a thing. All kinds of people love Air Force 1s,” said Isaac-Gloade.

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The Gloades are both artists in their own right but collaborate together to make the final product of the shoe. Cheyenne does most of the designing and Garrett does what he calls “the grunt work” — the beading.

“I think it’s time we show that type of avenue in the mainstream what Indigenous fashion and art look like,” said Isaac-Gloade.

The couple, along with Hines and Jesse Ingalls, started an initiative called “Project Samqwan“– Samqwan meaning water in Mi’kmaw. The main goal is to raise money for clean drinking water in Indigenous communities across the country. A portion of the proceeds from their designer shoes and other traditional artforms will contribute to the cause.

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“Water is the basic necessity for you to live. It’s the lifeblood of Mother Earth. It’s what keeps each and every human being going and it’s like, ‘why can’t these communities have that one basic necessity?'” said Gloade.

Read more: Indigenous TikTok creator spreads awareness for Canada’s First Nation water crisis

The beaded sneakers were on display at the Halifax Shopping Centre until last Sunday. Two of the pairs of shoes on display were designed by local Mi’kmaw youth, who participated in a beading workshop put on by the couple.

“We just wanted to highlight them and we think that it’s so valuable that if we’re going forward and moving forward we want to kind of bring our community and our young people with us,” said Isaac Gloade.

Cheyenne Gloade. Cheyenne Gloade

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