Sherwood Park, AB. — Today, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) students and staff are celebrating the Division’s Ribbon Skirt-Shirt Day. “The purpose is for Indigenous staff and students to proudly wear their ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts to show pride in their culture and increase visibility within Division spaces,” says Cheryl Devin, a First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education consultant at EIPS. “For allies that have been gifted ribbon shirts or skirts, it’s an opportunity for them to show solidarity as well.”
Leading up to EIPS Ribbon Skirt-Shirt Day, the Division held a ribbon skirt and shirt workshop for self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit students on January 30 and 31. “We wanted students to have the opportunity to create their own unique ribbon skirts and shirts. It also gave us the chance to teach them the meaning, heritage and story behind why these skirts and shirts exist and how these symbols remain so important,” adds Devin.
On Jan. 4, 2023, the first National Ribbon Skirt Day was held as a strength-based positive response to an act of racism toward a Saskatchewan student from her school. Isabella Kulak, a member of the Cote First Nation, wore a ribbon skirt to her elementary’s formal dress day. Once she arrived, Kulak was shamed and told the skirt didn’t count as “formal dress.” The incident sparked a national collective effort that led the Government of Canada to officially acknowledge the cultural significance of the ribbon skirt.
“EIPS Ribbon Skirt-Shirt Day is a time to celebrate the identity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and staff in our Division,” says Cathy Allen, Board Chair of EIPS. “This day reminds us that before we look to judge, we should first seek to understand. By doing so, we foster learning and working environments that showcase diversity in the most vibrant and beautiful ways—just like the different colours, patterns and fabrics of ribbon skirts and shirts.”
Although National Ribbon Skirt Day is recognized across Canada January 4, the date fell during the Division’s winter break, resulting in the celebration being rescheduled.
For more information on EIPS First Nations, Métis and Inuit education visit eips.ca.
Elk Island Public Schools is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,750 students in 42 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.
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For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902