Canadian Indigenous showcase to expand in Alberta

Calgary, Nov. 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Indigenous GenZ and Millennial founders spearhead a refreshing take on Truth & Reconciliation while paving a movement toward envisioning Canada’s road to T&R with action and tangible programming for all people.

Globally-respected Indigenous founders, artists and musicians from across Alberta, BC, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan will converge in downtown Calgary during the Four Winds Indigenous Market & Showcase, an event that brings the heart and soul of Indigenous innovation to YYC and Canada.

How it began:

When Tony (CEO) & Melissa Tootoosis (COO) founded and hosted the first 4 Winds Indigenous Market & Showcase ( https://www.fourwindsyyc.com/) in March of 2022, they were blown away by the reception from not only Indigenous but the non-Indigenous community across Alberta. 

Upwards of 800 people from many different treaty nations and communities across Western Canada attended and contributed to the inaugural grassroots event, which featured music, cultural programming, and a market that cumulated in vibrant powwow dancers, inspiring performers and hip-hop performances, as well as an Indigenous designers’ fashion show.

The movement had begun. 

It was clear to the Tootoosis family that Albertans were craving an inclusive event and space to celebrate and support the Indigenous arts, culture and entrepreneurs from across our region.

“I think many Canadians feel Truth&Rec should be about more than reading land acknowledgements during business functions and events. Sadly, many people often don’t know where to start,” says Tony Tootoosis, Four Winds Indigenous Market and Showcase co-founder.

“The attendance at our first showcase was much wider than just Calgary’s Indigenous population. We saw the support, the excitement, and the rallying of the non-Indigenous community come out, take part and enjoy. That is exactly why we founded Four Winds Indigenous Market & Showcase. No more us-and-them. We need to come together to create actionable change, especially for our Indigenous youth.”

Tony, or “Toosick” as he’s known, is a respected hip-hop artist, Grassdancer, audio engineer, semi-professional skateboarder and father from Poundmaker, Saskatchewan, now based in Calgary, Alberta. Tony recently received a 2022 National Changemaker Award from the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) and New Tribe Magazine, an honour he’s incredibly proud of because the nominations come directly from the community. 

Inaugural partnership with Business Improvement Area 

It’s the biggest and brightest Four Winds event to date, as well as the first time Four Winds have partnered with sponsors, such as the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area (BIA),  beyond the Indigenous community to create greater impact and inroads for all at an event that truly walks-the-walk of Truth & Reconciliation at heart. 

Four Winds Indigenous Showcase & Market is the brainchild of Tony and Melissa; Elders are consulted on programming and in attendance during the weekend to advise, while the next cohorts of GenZ and Millennial Indigenous leaders in business and the arts make their mark proudly through this celebration. The event organizers respect and welcome each and every individual who takes part, no matter their origin story or socioeconomic status, through the colonized lens.  

Highlights and potential angles include:

+ Indigenous Market (beadwork, jewelry, fashion, health & wellness, artwork, home decor & much more)
+ Powwow Showcase
+ Fashion Show, by nationally respected indigenous designers and artists including Sheena T Kaine, Model, who is recently back from Indigenous Paris Fashion Week
+ LIVE Performances from artists such as (listen to tracks herehttps://www.fourwindsyyc.com/artists) with more artists to be announced!:

– Drezus
– Chubby Cree (youth and elder artist group)
– Dallas Arcand Jr
– Toosick
– Illiano

– Ashley Ghostkeeper
– and DJ Nyla (teenage artist)

+ Food & clothing drive
+ Guest speakers from community outreach programs, as well as those who have struggled with homelessness, overcome and keep striving and leading by example. 
+ Cousins Skateboard Community (empowering youth through skateboarding and mentorship) 
+ Bear Clan Patrol (formed in 1992, a group formed in Winnipeg to take on the traditional responsibility to provide security to our Indigenous community).

Our Why
Four Winds was founded to support artists, performers and entrepreneurs that may not always be offered or have access to the same resources for promotion, mainstream media opportunities and networking touchpoints to building their businesses and startups. Our small businesses, entrepreneurs and artists who may go overlooked. 

“Changemaking is coming from within our Indigenous communities. We often hear only about the negatives, and it’s time to take back that story and shout our truths loud and proud — that’s part of the Four Winds’ mission,” says Tony, adding that Indigenous initiatives need visibility regionally and nationally so that the next generation can see a path forward to thrive. “Our youth deserve inroads and examples of success.”

Four Winds Indigenous Showcase & Market places emphasis on youth programming as well as showcasing community support and empowerment groups, including Cousins Skateboards Community and Bear Clan Patrol, who will be on-site for the weekend. 

“We are excited for people to learn about what these groups are doing and providing for our cities and communities,” says Melissa (Tootoosis), Calgary-based model and early education specialist for children with special needs. She adds that the concept of Four Winds was born from her and Tony’s passion as entrepreneurs and artists and inspired by their number one job description — Mom and Dad. 

“Our baby girl Aaliyah —  and all Indigenous children like her — deserve and need to see themselves reflected in the leaders and icons we celebrate across Canada. Mentorship and elevation come from showing, not telling, and leading by example. Four Winds is on a mission to do just that,” Melissa says. 

“When the non-Indigenous community comes out to show their support and allyship, it sets us all up to succeed together and shows our children that their culture, businesses and lives should be celebrated and supported.”

Regional Support:
Sponsorship from Victoria Park BIA, The District at Beltline, Cousins Skateboard Community, and many other generous supporters are the bedrock that fuels Four Winds Indigenous Showcase and Market. Full list of sponsors on the website.

The Four Winds organization is a startup by two Calgary-based Indigenous entrepreneurs. Profit and proceeds are not possible for the vendors, artists and Four Winds team without the generous kick-starting sponsorship and partnerships the community has provided. 

“We believe showcasing artists and entrepreneurs helps create networking opportunities and allows them to be more visible to the sectors they do business in, the community and the media. Our goal is to inspire the community — especially youth — to consider the opportunities available to them in the arts and acquire the information and connections to make their dream a reality,” Melissa says. 

Programming, Artists, Musicians & Schedule:
Upwards of 30 incredibly talented vendors who sell handmade goods such as beadwork, jewellery, fashion and hand-sewn items, wellness products, home decor, stained glass art, bannock, coffee beans and more. The talent showcase will include acoustic performers, country artists, a fashion show, spoken-word, hip-hop artists and even a family-friendly two-spirited drag performance! 

The full list of vendors, artists, and the schedule of weekend events available through the website.

Time and Place:
Hosted at the District at Beltline, 227, 11th Avenue SW Calgary,  from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 19th and 20th, 2022. With generous support from the Victoria Park BIA.

For more information, to set up interviews and ask about media access before and during the event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to connecting with you and are happy to help you bespoke a unique story angle or feature around one of the many initiatives or artists who are part of this movement. We strongly believe this is not just an Indigenous story, a Calgary story, or an Alberta story. This is a movement that will impact T&R for Canadians. It’s a Canadian story, a global story, and one we can all be proud to help spearhead. 

  • VISUAL Media assets for media available HERE
  • Social Media: @fourwindsYYC 

Media Contacts:

Boiler Plate:
Four Winds Indigenous Showcase and Market have the vision to be Western Canada’s largest Indigenous culture, music, business and arts market and showcase. A catalyst for Indigenous artists, musicians, artisans, designers, entrepreneurs and community leaders to thrive while welcoming non-Indigenous brothers and sisters to join in Truth & Reconciliation through action and impact. Together, we can change the next generation of Indigenous children’s futures.

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