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Ryerson University's first Indigenous designer in residence hopes to inspire fashion students

Angela DeMontigny's clothing has been on runways in places like South Africa and London. Now she's using her experience to inspire young designers and encourage them to incorporate their own heritage into the things they create.

Angela DeMontigny has worked in the fashion industry for 25 years

Angela DeMontigny incorporates her Cree and Métis heritage into her designs. (Paul Borkwood / CBC News)

Fashion designer Angela DeMontigny says she's been showcasing the beauty of her culture in her clothing and accessories for years.

Now, as Ryerson University's first Indigenous designer in residence, she's eager to encourage fashion students at the school to do the same.

"I've been giving them some inspiration and mentoring them to start being really authentic," DeMontigny​ told CBC's Our Toronto

"They're starting to embrace that and it's really cool."

DeMontigny is Cree and Métis, and her designs have been flaunted on runways around the globe. Her most recent collection  is called Of the Stars.

"I'm trying to show people we have a connection with the stars, the sun and the moon," she said. 

"We call them our grandfather and grandmother." 

Demontigny's boutique in Hamilton showcases her pieces, along with the work of other Indigenous artists. ( (Marta Hewson/DeMontigny Boutique|Gallery))

'Be more mindful of who you're buying from'

As a designer in residence, DeMontigny delivers lectures to the students and mentors them.

She says she's seeing a shift in the fashion industry from gender equality to more diversity, but she's still working to educate more people about cultural appropriation.

Watch Talia Ricci's interview with Angela DeMontigny on Our Toronto Saturday and Sunday at noon, and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.

"There is a lot of confusion about it," she said. 

"If you're buying it from a large company or someone who is not Indigenous then that is appropriation." 

DeMontigny says it's important to do your research.

"Buy from an Indigenous artist or designer and support that small business," she said. 

"Be more mindful of who you're buying from, what you're buying."

DeMontigny's boutique in Hamilton, Ont. also showcases the work of other Indigenous artists. As a designer who's been in the business for 25 years — and whose work is recognized — she aims to highlight up-and-coming Indigenous talent, from artists to models.

  "I hope that we become major players in the global fashion industry and that our work as Indigenous designers is  respected and purchased," DeMontigny said.

"I hope that also helps young Indigenous people aspire to have careers in fashion or the creative industry."


Talia Ricci is a CBC reporter based in Toronto. She has travelled around the globe with her camera documenting people and places as well as volunteering. Talia enjoys covering offbeat human interest stories and exposing social justice issues. When she's not reporting, you can find her reading or strolling the city with a film camera.