Sunday October 15, 2017

#WearingMyCulture campaign asks teens to proudly wear Indigenous traditional clothes

Kisis Cappo went to school Oct. 2, 2017, in her traditional First Nations dress as a show of support for her culture.

Kisis Cappo went to school Oct. 2, 2017, in her traditional First Nations dress as a show of support for her culture. (Submitted by Kisis Cappo)

Listen 5:51

A Saskatchewan teen is standing up for her First Nation heritage with a ribbon skirt and the help of social media.

For the month of October, Kisis-Isquao Cappo from Muscowpetung First Nation will be wearing traditional clothing to her high school in Balgonie, Sask. to raise awareness of the issue of racism.

To accompany, this Cappo started the #WearingMyCulture social media campaign, and a Facebook group.

She was inspired to wear traditional clothing after hearing about the racism her brother experienced in school. While in history class, Cappo's brother Haydar-Ali Cappo, overheard kids making fun of First Nation legends.

"It really hurt to hear what happened to him," said Cappo.

On the first day she wore her full regalia to school, and since then has been primarily wearing ribbon skirts, which Cappo said are typically worn in ceremonies such as sweats, sundances and feasts.

"I wore [my regalia] to raise awareness of racism in all schools… so it can be known that our culture is important, and it has to be shown," she said.

To kick off her month of wearing traditional clothes to school, Cappo posted a photograph on Facebook and it went viral — with more than 2,000 shares and over 5,000 likes.


"It's kind of crazy, I didn't expect to get that much likes, I expected two likes and one share," Cappo said.

In her school she has faced mixed responses to her campaign — her teachers are supportive and curious to learn more about her culture, but a few kids have responded negatively.

"From students I got stares and I was told I was too white to be wearing my traditional clothing," said Cappo.

Cappo hopes that students from across Canada will participate in her campaign, and post photos of themselves wearing traditional clothes to school using the hashtag, #WearingMyCulture.

She has already received photos from Prince Albert, Ontario and even Arizona.

School responds

"Racism is everywhere, we would be naive to say it isn't in our schools," said Jason Weitzel, principal of Greenall High School.

"In our schools it's our job to teach kids about inclusion and diversity, we also need our families, community members to do the same." 

Weitzel met with Kisis-Isquao Cappo when she wore her regalia on the first day.

"We're on it as a school community to support Kisis-Isquao in raising awareness in a way that's respectful," said Weitzel.