Wearing a ribbon skirt is significant and meaningful for Isabella Kulak, the 12-year-old girl from Cote First Nation who inspired National Ribbon Skirt Day.
“Now everybody could wear their ribbon skirt with pride without feeling ashamed,” said Kulak.
Every year from now on, Jan. 4 will be known as National Ribbon Skirt Day, as it was passed unanimously into law by Parliament last month.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the importance of this day.
“This National Ribbon Skirt Day, I invite everyone to learn from Indigenous Peoples about their cultures and histories – from languages to traditional ceremonies and regalia to ancestral ties to the land,” he said.
“Together, let us amplify Indigenous voices and stand up against racism and discrimination to build a better society for everyone.”
The story stemmed from Kulak, who was shamed for wearing a ribbon skirt to school on a formal day. The movement created a ripple effect across the country where Indigenous women wore their ribbon skirts in solidarity with Kulak.
“I’m super proud of my little girl for speaking up. It took an impact on her family. And I’m just happy that it woke up the world,” said Lana Kulak, Isabella’s mother. “It’s like everybody is wearing more and more ribbon skirts. They’re being proud of who they are and not being ashamed and hiding.”
Lana Kulak said wearing a ribbon skirt connects her to Mother Earth and gives her so much pride in her identity. That teaching was passed down to her children, including Isabella.
“It’s like a secret power kind of thing. Makes me stand taller … and gives me an extra strength that normally I wouldn’t have inside of me,” said Lana.
“It’s just an overwhelming feeling when I wear my ribbon skirt and when I see more and more people out there wearing their ribbon skirts and wearing their ribbon shirts, it just melts my heart and makes me feel so happy.”
On this day, her community will be celebrating National Ribbon Skirt Day at their local school, where Sen. Mary McCallum will be in attendance, along with Indigenous leaders and various schools.
The chief of Cote First Nation said they will be acknowledging the significance of the bill that was passed and thanking people for recognizing women’s skirt day for not only the nation, but for Canada as well.
“I feel very humbled knowing that our children are speaking up and also a band member from Cote First Nation coming forward,” said Chief George Cote.
“I know (Isabella) is very overwhelmed. And, you know, I really appreciate her courage that she stood up for her heritage and the family that was behind her and also the leadership of Cote First Nation in the membership.”
The Kulaks encourage people to wear their ribbon skirts, ribbon shirts or any Indigenous attire on this day to display pride and identity.