2018 imagineNATIVE Delegate Bag Design

“picking blueberries in my moccasins” by Sage Paul

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Artist Statement

When I travel to Patuanak, my reserve in northern Saskatchewan, my dad takes me to the trapline where he grew up. Even after he started at residential school, the land was still virtually untouched. My dad recalls his childhood and points to natural landmarks like where their home was, where the hole in the ground for the fridge was, and how the sunset across the water displays the most beautiful show.

Now other than a few rusty remnants left by the settlers across the way from my dad’s childhood home and a dirt road, there is almost no way to know a family thrived here. My dad, my auntie and uncles, my grandma and grandpa and our ancestors before them lived on that land. They would have walked it in their wrap-around moccasins. I imagine it was much more busy then but just as serene as it is today.

Today that land is quiet and completely covered in wild blueberries. There are so many, we could eat blueberries all day, every day for the whole summer. When I crouch down to eat handfuls at a time, I look down at my Vans sneakers and I see moccasins where my family and ancestors stood. That is how I know they were here. This graphic print is looking down at the land where we stand. The graphics are derived from the designs on wrap-around moccasins surrounded by wild blueberries in the dense bush of Patuanak.

– Sage Paul

Sage Paul is an urban Dene woman and a member of English River First Nation. Based in Toronto, Sage is an artist, designer and innovative leader for Indigenous fashion, craft and textiles, championing family, sovereignty and resistance for balance. Sage is also a founding collective member and Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto.

Some of Sage’s art and design has shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, Harbourfront Centre, The Centre for Craft, Creativity and Design (North Carolina, USA), and a curated program at Western Canada Fashion Week by Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective. Sage has presented on Indigenous fashion including at Canada House (London, UK), The Walrus Magazine, Ryerson University, Toronto Women’s Fashion Week and South Africa Fashion Week. In 2018, she will present her most recent collection Giving Life at Festival de Mode & Design (Montreal) and Ohtaapiahki Fashion Week (Calgary).

In 2017, Sage received the Design Exchange RBC Emerging Designer Award in the fashion category, was recognized by Flare Magazine as a top 100 talented & driven Canadian women and was honoured by the Ontario Minister of the Status of Women as a trailblazing woman who is transforming Ontario. She sits on the Ryerson School of Fashion Advisory Board and is developing an Indigenous Fashion elective course for George Brown College.