WIIKWEMKOONG – It has been a long road for self-taught artist Bruno Henry whose talents delve into photography, clothing design and jewellery, but a recently arrived parcel in the mail brought a broad smile to the Wiikwemkoong artist’s face. Contained within the package was an award from the International Indigenous Arts and Fashion Awards for Sustainable Fashion Designer of the Year.
“Thank you to the committee who accepted my nomination and to the one who nominated me and to all those who voted for me,” said Mr. Henry. “I am truly honored.”
Mr. Henry is originally from Six Nations of the Grand River, but now makes his home in the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories.
Mr. Henry said his work is “inspired by the traditional look of our Native ancestors.”
The citation for his nomination describes him as being “known for his classy and creative blending of modern adaptable styles with ancient designs and symbols. Most of his custom fit clothing designs are created using traditional materials like deer hide and buffalo hide stitched together using leather stitch-work instead of thread or sinew.”
When it comes to the venues where he showcases his work, Mr. Henry directly involves Indigenous youth as models and volunteers—giving them a chance to “experience confidence in themselves, to tap into those untapped talents and gifts within.”
“I can’t say it enough and how important it is for our Native youth to keep our identity as First Nations and be proud of our heritage,” he said. “This is where I feel I can help them, be it with mentoring them as up-and-coming designers or helping with their self-esteem through my photography.”
Mr. Henry lists his goals as bringing “recognition to myself and other First Nation designers into the mainstream fashion market. My clothing line has always been about wear anytime fashion. Each design I create I want the wearer to have the ability to wear the design any time of the year and to any formal or semi-formal event. My designs are not made for any such occasion as each is very unique in its design and craftsmanship.”