This Indigneous Advocate is Telling Her Story With Jewellery
"When we talk about reconciliation, it is about inter- and multi-generational healing."
In the backyard of her childhood home, Shayla Stonechild’s grandfather, Ray Oulette, unearthed an arrowhead pendant.
He would wear the treasure as a necklace for the remainder of his life, and when he passed earlier this year, the pendant was handed down to one of Stonechild’s brothers. In return, she promised her grandfather she would make another.
Come March, the Indigenous advocate partnered with Edmonton-headquartered designer Paris Jewellers for a limited edition Arrowhead necklace.
The collab sold out, with 100 per cent of the net proceeds (totaling more than $31,500) donated to Matriarch Movement, the nonprofit organization Stonechild founded to shift the mainstream narrative around Indigenous women.
Thanks to the success of the first drop, Shayla Stonechild and Paris Jewellers have partnered once again.
The new collection consists of a 21 inch sterling silver necklace ($149) and a pair of earrings ($129), available in both sterling silver and 10kt solid yellow gold-plated sterling silver. Both pieces feature an arrowhead pendant (removable on the earrings to create a classic hoop) with three diamonds.
As with the first Arrowhead necklace, Paris Jewellers will donate the proceeds to Matriarch Movement. And with the extension of the partnership (and another with Lululemon), the organization is in the planning and production phase for its first virtual Indigenous wellness series, set to launch in 2022.
“The arrowhead represents ties to my lineage along with protection, strength and moving forward,” Stonechild says. “As we move into 2022, it is important that we acknowledge our own lineages and the various histories of Canada and how they relate to Indigenous people. We must move forward and act in good relations with one another.”
The partnership with Shayla Stonechild is a natural fit Paris Jewellers, co-owned by sisters Chau Lui and Trang Wong. “As a family that immigrated from Vietnam, we are proud of our heritage and our humble beginnings,” Lui says. “We are also a women-owned business with a workforce of 90% women. That is why we are so passionate about bravely sharing our stories and creating the change we wish to see in the world.”
FASHION connected with Lui and Stonechild about the new collection, the power of personal style and reconciliation.
Could you discuss the making of the Paris Jewellers x Shayla Stonechild arrowhead pendant and its symbolism?
Chau Lui: “I spoke to Shayla about how she wanted people to feel when they wore the piece…After that, I got to work by putting the ideas together and starting to sketch. It was important to include three diamonds in the necklace to represent our past, present and future; to acknowledge the past, which is what got us to the present, and to be intentional about the changes that we make now, in order to create the future we want for our communities. Once I had the initial designs, I shared them with Shayla and she loved each piece.”
How will the proceeds be used to fund various workshops, resources and other initiatives?
Shayla Stonechild: “We will be using the proceeds of this collaboration to create an all-Indigenous wellness series that highlights seven different Indigenous instructors throughout Turtle Island. We will also be curating the second official photo/video shoot for the Matriarch Movement, highlighting a series of Indigenous women and two-spirited people. We’ll be exploring how each of them reclaim their power and do the transformative work they are responsible for in their community.”
CL: “Our goal will always be to empower women and help amplify Indigenous voices; creating space for those who have been silenced for far too long to reclaim their power and tell their stories in their own voices.”
How did you balance masculine and feminine energies for this collection?
SS: “We designed the collaboration with all of our relatives in mind. It is for women, men, non-binary and two spirit. It evokes a masculine feeling with a feminine touch. I believe in a balance and integration of the sacred masculine and feminine energies within ourselves. When we embrace both, we can express a holistic worldview.”
What compelled you to partner with Paris Jewellers for another collection?
SS: “Paris Jewellers is a local, female founded, Canadian brand that I grew up walking by in the mall ever since I was a child. My grandparents actually gifted me my amethyst grad ring from Paris Jewellers. I feel like I have known this brand my entire life. Since my first meeting with Paris Jewellers, Chau made it clear that they were looking for a long-term partnership, that my voice and vision mattered.”
What does healing and reconciliation mean for the Matriarch Movement, and yourself, as we look ahead to 2022?
SS: “A big part of our own healing journeys are about looking within the aspects of our identities that we hide from the world (or even from ourselves). Those fragments are waiting to be integrated and hold a lot of medicine and teachings if we allow them to see the light…Our personal healing journey must begin before we can talk about our collective one.
“Reconciliation is now at the point where we shouldn’t just be talking about it. We need action, recognition of our rights and title, representation and inclusion within every sector and industry. When we talk about reconciliation, it is about inter- and multi-generational healing. Not only within our own communities but also within non-Indigenous people.
“Right now, Indigenous people are still fighting to have our basic human rights met, the right to have access to clean drinking water, the right to even stay alive in a colonial world.
“When we talk about reconciliation we also need to demand [the federal government to] implement the 94 Calls to Action by the TRC, the 231 Calls to Justice, and…the framework within the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples here in Canada. When we talk about reconciliation, we also need to talk about dismantling the racist Indian Act and the Doctrine of Discovery that still affects every aspect of Indigenous lives. Reconciliation [is] interconnected to our own individual and collective healing. It is an ongoing process and a lifelong commitment.”
How do you see jewellery, personal style and identity as being intertwined?
SS: “Jewellery and personal style have the ability to introduce yourself before you even say ‘Tansi.’ We know that crystals, gemstones and jewellery have the ability to affect one’s own individual being while wearing it…For me, wearing jewellery is an invitation to tell a story, to invite a new feeling, vibration and/or intention into my life. This in return, affects my day to day life which then, creates my identity over time.”