CULTURE

A Feast in the Forest: Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Education During Indigenous History Month

As we honour National Indigenous History Month, it’s essential to highlight the incredible efforts being made to support and celebrate Indigenous cultures and education. One such effort is “A Feast in the Forest,” an event hosted by Indspire, a national Indigenous charity. This event is dedicated to raising funds and awareness to support First Nation, Inuit, and Métis students through bursaries, programs, and resources, helping them achieve their educational goals and dreams.


In celebration of this month and the upcoming event on June 12th, we had the opportunity to speak with Lesley Hampton, an award-winning Indigenous fashion designer and advocate, to gain insight into the event and the broader significance of National Indigenous History Month.

Can you tell us more about ‘A Feast in the Forest’ and what inspired you to get involved with this event?

photo provided by: ‘A Feast in the Forest’

‘A Feast in the Forest’ is an bi-annual event hosted by Indspire, a national Indigenous charity, to support First Nation, Inuit and Métis students through bursaries, programs, and resources that help them to pursue their education goals and dreams. During the first ‘A Feast in the Forest’ in 2022, the event raised more than $1million dollars. This year’s event is tonight (June 12th) and we can’t wait – to learn more about future events or support please visit https://indspire.ca/events/a-feast-in-the-forest/.

I am incredibly inspired by the many initiatives from Indspire. Being a recipient of an Indspire Award in 2021, I have experienced the support this organization provides to the Indigenous community across many areas. I was also an auction item donor in 2022 ‘Feast in the Forest’, and have expanded my support this year to join the Organizing Committee for this beautiful initiative to raise donations to support Indigenous students and the next generation. 

How can our readers support the Indigenous community during National Indigenous History Month?

There are so many ways to support the Indigenous community during National Indigenous History Month. 

Charitable donations to organizations such as Indspire are a great way to directly impact and support Indigenous students and communities across Turtle Island.

You can also attend the many events taking place this month (and beyond) that support the Indigenous community such as attending Pow Wows or Indigenous-led marketplaces. Purchasing directly from Indigenous artisans leads to a thriving Indigenous economy and provides you with an item that you can share with your friends and community. 

photo provided by: ‘A Feast in the Forest’

From your perspective, what is the significance of National Indigenous History Month, and how does it contribute to the visibility and celebration of Indigenous cultures?

This month is significant because it provides a platform for you to educate yourself about the land in which you take up space, and allows for a greater understanding of the Indigenous community and the multi-faceted nature of our peoples. 

 

What role does fashion play in your advocacy for Indigenous culture and education?

Indigenous fashion is a way of storytelling. We use what we put onto our bodies as a way of telling stories and we create work with a greater meaning with the hopes that the story the item holds can be shared by its wearer. 

Indigenous Fashion Designers, such as myself, have a focus on community and sustainability and often become leaders in these areas for other members of the fashion community to be influenced by. 

photo provided by: ‘A Feast in the Forest’

Can you share any specific experiences or stories from past ‘A Feast in the Forest’ events that have particularly impacted you?

Moments I find beautiful about ‘A Feast in the Forest’ is that it is a time where we can all come together not only to support of Indigenous Education but it provides a platform for Indigenous students who have been provided grants and bursaries by Indspire to share their stories directly with the guests of the event. It is truly a heartfelt evening. 

 

How do events like ‘A Feast in the Forest’ and the work done by organisations like Indspire help to create educational opportunities for Indigenous students?

This event raises funds through donations, sponsorship, and auction items to support First Nation, Inuit and Métis students through bursaries, programs, and resources that help them to pursue their education goals and dreams.

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