It all started with a Dress For Success event at the Barrie Native Friendship Centre.

Dawn Bolduc's employment training work for native people centres itself on resumes, employability skills, interview rehearsals, and job presentation. It was logical, then, to hold a Dress For Success fashion show, with the models selecting their own, economically-priced clothes and walking down an aisle to demonstrate appropriate job wear.

Dawn's passionate about employment for aboriginal people, and often her work involves much more than the resume or the job interview.

Fast forward to a year later when the Friendship Centre hosted a Media Career Day with local media taking part in round table discussions, trade show booths, and one-on-one discussions with aboriginal youth. Dawn was called forward to again present a Dress For Success show.

Friendship Centre Executive Director David Martin explains that for aboriginal people, wealth isn't about money. Wealth is appreciated through four filters: emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual. With this in mind, Career Day and Dress for Success became events to focus on more than just a paycheque. But it got even bigger. The Media Career Fair was such a success that Doug Garraway of The New VR and Robin Munroe, organizer of Barrie's Jazz & Blues Festival met with David and Dawn to bring an aboriginal focus into the limelight.

Together, and with the resources of the women from the Native Friendship Centre, the group sought out aboriginal designers, paired up their designs with jazz music at Heritage Park, did some fashion and runway training and took the Dress for Success idea a little farther down the ramp.

Well, this little party is about to explode.

Together, and with the resources of the women from the Native Friendship Centre, the group sought out aboriginal designers, paired up their designs with jazz music at Heritage Park, did some fashion and runway training and took the Dress for Success idea a little farther down the ramp.

On November 6 at Casino Rama Design-nation or Designation (you choose your own interpretation) Gala will feature well trained aboriginal models in the clothes of Canadian aboriginal designers, funky music, live entertainment, fabulous food, and more, more, more.

The Gala wouldn't be possible without the volunteer efforts of dozens of people, starting with clever Dream Catcher invitations complete with feathers and silver to an East meets West menu guaranteed to satisfy any palate. Wanda Fluney of Potentials Models & Self Development is providing the training and choreography for the event; Elizabeth Johnston of Decorations for All Occasions is turning the venue from terrific to "wow".

The work of designers such as Ronald Everett of Toronto and Angela DeMontigny of Six Nations--seven designers in all--will create the oohs and aahs of the evening.

No ordinary fashion show, here. Aboriginal regalia such as shawl dancers, jingle dresses, traditional men's costumes will complement modern designs. In fact, it's apparent how much today's designs draw from yesteryear.

"They loved what we did at Heritage Park during Jazz & Blues Festival," says David Martin. "We thought, let's do more, we can make a much bigger event." Headline music at the event is by the very popular Downchild Blues Band. Their opening act will be Sugar High, a regional trio talent.

Casino Rama has stepped up to the plate (as it were) and Royal Victoria Hospital's Cancer Care Centre will be one of the big recipients of funds raised. The Friendship Centre also wants to boost its own breast cancer awareness program. Together, both groups are sharing resources, and building on community generosity to give a fabulous evening's entertainment with a totally unique twist.

There are sponsorship opportunities for businesses... several categories range from sponsoring a model at $300 to owning a Fashion Capitals spot such as Paris ($5000) or Milan ($3500) and everything in between. Sponsors increase the fundraising power, says Dawn Bolduc, and she's ready to take a call... 721-7689.

Small business also has its place at this Gala.

Donated door prizes (a great chance to promote your products) will be auctioned off to increase funds raised during the evening. But this is no ordinary auction! Attendance is expected to kick off interest from the RVH Foundation and its supporters, Chiefs of each band in this region. The entire event begins at 6 pm, November 6, with a hand drumming presentation by the aboriginal community. You can expect to enjoy contemporary and native music while participating in a unique effort.

Tickets? $150. Includes a charitable tax receipt. 739-5600.

Design. Nation. Coming together. And we all benefit.

Thanks, David. Thanks, Dawn.

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