The first National Ribbon Skirt Day celebrated nationwide

January 4th, 2022 marks the first National Ribbon Skirt Day which started from an 11-year-old girl from Cote First Nation. Photos courtesy: Kyara Ray Photography

An 11-year-old girl from the Cote First Nation is described as “strong and resilient” by supporters on social media nationwide. And it all started with a movement of wearing ribbons skirts that she created with the help of her family.

In December 2020, Isabella Kulak wore a ribbon skirt to Kamsack Comprehensive Institute (KCI) on formal day. An educational assistant shamed Kulak which made her upset.

When she informed her family about the incident, it snowballed from there.

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The educational assistant was questioned by the school and the school division where matters such as this was considered of importance.

“It caused [Isabella] shame and angst and it should never have happened,” said Quintin Robertson, Good Spirit School Division Director. “As a school division, we knew that we had done wrong. We needed to do something to rectify the situation.”
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The KCI and the school division stood by the family’s side throughout the whole ordeal. They wanted to learn how they can do better for their Indigenous students and repair the relationships with the Indigenous community. This was a step in the direction of forgiveness and reconciliation.

“Everyone allowed for us to admit our error and move forward together in a good way,” said Robertson. “It was an amazing opportunity that we did not want to squander.”

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On Jan. 4, 2022, the Good Spirit School Division organized a Ribbon Skirt event at the KCI, which was attended by dignitaries along with staff and students. It was also a day that is marked as “National Ribbon Skirt Day” under Bill S-227.

“It’s really overwhelming. There were so many emotions,” said Isabella’s mother Lana Kulak. “It’s a joyful feeling altogether. I’m still in shock and in awe that it’s my baby girl. I can’t believe it; sky’s the limit.

“I believe more people are wearing ribbon skirts and their traditional wear. Wearing a ribbon skirt to me means strength, resilience and womanhood.”

Click to play video: 'Indigenous women from Alberta share the strength behind ribbon skirts'
Indigenous women from Alberta share the strength behind ribbon skirts

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