Article and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – On Saturday, June 3, 2023, the Cornwall Civic Complex came alive with the spirit of unity and hope as 200 individuals gathered for the Gemini Gala of Truth, Reconciliation & Fashion. This remarkable event, organized by Kashenniiostha, Shannon Ferguson, Rebecca Sorrell-Forrester, Ashlee Murray-Michaud, Tara-Lynn Chandran, and Michele Allinotte, aimed to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges of Truth and Reconciliation in our community and beyond. The gala, which was a fundraiser for CUREA (Coalition for Unity, Respect, Equality/Equity for All), also featured a spectacular fashion show that showcased the creativity and talent of diverse designers.
The evening commenced with in-depth discussions led by esteemed local leaders, who offered personal and community perspectives on the vital work being done for Truth and Reconciliation. Among the speakers were Cornwall Mayor Justin Towndale, Akwesasne Mohawk Council Grand Chief Abram Benedict, Cornwall City Councillor Sarah Good, Cornwall City Councillor Fred Ngoundjo, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Chief Ron Lafrance, and the 2022 Cornwall Citizen of the Year, Lee Theodore. Their insights and experiences shed light on the pressing issues and inspired attendees.
The atmosphere transformed into a vibrant celebration of fashion and cultural diversity following the enlightening discussions. The fashion show, a highlight of the evening, featured three exceptional designers who captured the essence of tradition, innovation, and identity through their unique creations.
Tina Thompson, a talented designer from Akwesasne, showcased her extraordinary Queena Ribbon designs. Having embarked on her sewing journey six years ago during her family’s return to Kanonesne/Longhouse, Tina has gained recognition for her innovative designs. In April, she showcased her work at the Teton Fashion Gala, which celebrated new and emerging designers at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma.
Local fashion designer Farrah David, a graduate of The Richard Robinson Academy in Ottawa, presented her label, Belle Penny. With a prestigious Designer of the Year accolade in 2004, Farrah’s creations have captivated audiences not only in Canada but also in Europe, where her sales continue to flourish.
Lou Jeune, another remarkable designer, brought her distinctive perspective to the runway. After moving to Canada, Lou immersed herself in modeling competitions and collaborated with a fashion designer in Montreal to nurture her passion for fashion. Her extensive experience, including a three-year Business Administration degree and a two-year Fashion Designer course at Richard Robinson Fashion Academy, culminated in the birth of her own label, Loudelle.
The fusion of fashion, education, and community engagement made the Gemini Gala an unforgettable experience. The event showcased the power of coming together to address important social issues and foster change. Attendees left the gala feeling inspired and motivated to contribute to the ongoing journey of Truth and Reconciliation.
CUREA expressed its gratitude on social media to all those who attended the gala, including the distinguished speakers, designers, sponsors, donors, volunteers, and the dedicated planning committee. The organization was thrilled with the overwhelming support received and will announce the final amount raised for their cause, which is expected to exceed all expectations.
Furthermore, CUREA extended a special thank you to Kashenniiostha, the President of the organization, who conceived the idea of hosting the Gemini Gala on her birthday.
“The Gemini Gala was a huge success, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Kashenniiostha on social media.
With the resounding success of this year’s gala, excitement is already building for next year’s event. The Gemini Gala has proven to be a powerful platform for promoting unity, respect, and equality while highlighting the significance of Truth and Reconciliation in our society.
The Seeker was proud to be a Silver Sponsor for this important event.