By Rebecca Baker-Grenier
Kanayu Kollection is an Indigenous fashion brand aimed at empowering Indigenous people, strengthening the art form, and passing skills to the next generation. Kanayu Kollection is wearable for all peoples.
“Kana” means ‘to sew’ and "ayu" means 'tool' in the Kwak’wala language, spoken by Kwak’waka’wakw Nations on Vancouver Island, BC. Sewing and design are and always have been an integral part of Indigenous culture. Through fashion, Kanayu Kollection carries forward cultural skills and knowledge to ensure it is passed on to the next generation. Through designs, colors, and materials, Kanayu Kollection represents their communities, lineages, and ancestral connections.
For Indigenous people, it is important to represent who we are and to be proud of our identities in our everyday contemporary realities. Clothing is a way to express our identities, to reclaim our pride, and demonstrate our ancestral connections. This ongoing process of learning and connecting with ourselves is essential to defining our identities rooted in culture. It is a necessary process to heal from colonial trauma. Kanayu Kollection is a physical and outer representation of our inner selves and our identities as Indigenous people. To be proud of who we are is inspiring; to express who we are is empowering.
Kanayu Kollection creates clothing that is appropriate for non-Indigenous people to wear as well. With the increasing problem of cultural appropriation, it is important to support authentic Indigenous brands. By doing this, you create opportunities for Indigenous artists and can gain insight into Indigenous culture.
Kanayu Kollection is primarily located on Skowkale Territory, BC, Canada.
Rebecca is of Kwakiuł and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh ancestry and is an Indigenous artist. Rebecca apprenticed for fashion design under established Indigenous designer and artist, Himikalas Pam Baker. She completed the Indigenous Couture Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Rebecca was the recipient of the 2021 YVR Emerging Artist Scholarship for her fashion design. Her dress, ‘Wazulis’ is on display as part of an exhibit at the YVR Vancouver Airport and then to the Museum of Vancouver. She also had some pieces included as part of an online exhibition at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Rebecca has shown her recent collection at New York Fashion Week 2022 and Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. There is an intimate ancestral connection with the art that Rebecca creates, representing her lineage as an Indigenous woman.
Rebecca holds a BA from the University of British Columbia with a Major in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program. In addition to fashion design, she is an Artistic Associate for the Dancers of Damelahamid, a professional Indigenous dance company, and the Festival Associate for the Coastal Dance Festival. Rebecca has been dancing pow-wow for twenty years and has been a dancer with the Dancers of Damelahamid since 2015. She has also been creating sewn and beaded regalia since the age of eleven, with her first commission at the age of sixteen. Rebecca is the regalia designer for the Dancers of Damelahamid’s productions, 2016 – present, with her works dancing on national and international stages.