Ela x Christi Belcourt

See Holt Renfrew’s Gorgeous New Handbag Collaboration

The ela X Christi Belcourt limited edition handbag will help raise funds for The Onaman Collective in Northern Ontario.

Ela x Christi Belcourt Mini MILCK Clutch

If you’ve ever learned a foreign language or read a book that has been translated, you’ll understand the meaning of the term “mother tongue.” We all simply understand things better in the language we were raised. There are nuances to words, turn of phrases that mean one thing to one person, and something else to a person in a different language. And when one is left without language there are stories that will never be shared.

For Canada’s indigenous communities, movement off ancestral lands and upbringings in residential schools meant the loss of traditional language, and by default, crucial links to their histories have been lost. The topic of traditional language is a flashpoint for Indigenous people all around the world, and here in Canada, there is a thriving grassroots movement intent on reclaiming indigenous dialects for young people.

This is why, three years ago, Metis artist Christi Belcourt (along with Isaac Murdoch and Erin Konsmo) founded The Onaman Collective in Northern Ontario.  This community arts group is “dedicated to the resurgence of Indigenous ways of being and knowing.” That includes language immersion workshops, and knowledge about life on the land. Demand is such that the collective is looking to build a year round structure to make their activities available to more.

“We bring youth and elders together on the land, for culture, language, and traditional and community arts,” said Belcourt who was in Toronto to talk about Holt Renfrew’s latest H Project launch, the ela X Christi Belcourt  limited edition handbags.

ela x Christi Belcourt Editor’s Pouch

Two ela models, the Editor’s Pouch and MILCK Mini will feature floral details lifted from Belcourt’s gorgeous large scale acrylics resembling traditional indigenous beadwork. The Ela x Christi Belcourt collaboration will also help raise funds to build a permanent Onaman Collective camp in Northern Ontario where elders can connect with younger first nation’s people year round.

According to Belcourt The Onaman Collective is run completely by volunteers without government funding, so organizers have sold art or held auctions to finance operations.

Belcourt contintued to say the facilities are not fancy or extravagant but done for the love future generations. Belcourt, who lives in Espanolo, Ontario has artwork hanging in the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto. But she’s hardly a stranger to fashion. Luxury Italian fashion house Valentino drew inspiration from Belcourt’s piece “Water Song” for their Spring 2016 collection.

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The limited edition ela X Christi Belcourt collection is available in stores and online at holtrenfrew.com; $75 from each Mini MILCK Clutch($395) and $10 from each Editor’s Pouch ($50) will go towards supporting The Onaman Collective.