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UVic student heads to Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival in Toronto



Mishelle Lavoie’s passion project Capital M will participate in the festival for the second time

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Photo: Courtesy of Mishelle Lavoie

Mishelle Lavoie has always loved to create. Growing up in a Sahtúot’įnę-Métis household in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, her mother was the first person to teach her how to bead when she was around 10 years old, starting with small designs, like flowers. 

“I always wanted to do beading or get into it because I’ve seen a lot of my aunties, my grandma or my mom doing it,” said Lavoie. 

The UVic student—she’s currently working on her undergrad degree in general studies, with plans to eventually study art therapy—was fascinated with the beaded designs her cousins and other Indigenous cultures would wear. But she didn’t revisit the artform until her 20s, when she learned how to do more complicated peyote stitches and flatwork beading, falling back in love with the craft.

Now, she’s taking her beading skills to Toronto to showcase her work at the Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival (IFAW). She’ll be there along with fellow Victoria resident and UVic professor, Heather Igloliorte who will appear on a panel at the festival.

Lavoie first began her beaded earring brand Capital M in 2015 when her son was born. She said her maternity offered a moment to slow down and rekindle her interest in beadwork and design.

Life started to get busy again and she paused her work, but picked it up again in 2019 when she began to play around with different earring patterns. Working on beadwork earrings, she said, is a relaxing and therapeutic experience that “brings back memories.”

She went to the IFAW in 2022 and loved the experience, but said the pandemic was still hanging over everyones’ heads.

“Back in 2022, we were still tiptoeing around COVID stuff,” said Lavoie. “So it should be exciting to see how this year pans out compared to the last one. I feel like it’s going to be bigger.”

Despite the pandemic, Lavoie was able to connect with other makers at the 2022 festival who happen to work on or near the Island. They introduced her to other local Indigenous designers, creators and resources, such as the Aunty Collective, a space for Indigenous artists in Greater Victoria to connect and showcase their work, helping to build up her network of makers here.

While she’s still busy studying and raising her son, she’s able to make small batch orders by request—her Instagram is the best place to keep an eye on her work—and is looking forward to growing her skills and expanding the brand once she has more free time.

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