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Indigenous people across Canada are rocking their mocs this week

Rock Your Mocs, a worldwide campaign to promote cultural pride, takes place Nov. 9-16.

Rock Your Mocs takes place from Nov. 9-16. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

Indigenous people from coast to coast to coast are rocking their moccasins at school, at the office and in communities this week amid a worldwide campaign to promote cultural pride.

It’s called Rock Your Mocs.

“I’m showing my representation in public spaces, including social media,” said Ashley Daniels, the Manitoba representative on the Assembly of First Nations national youth council.

“Just to be reminded that we hold these spaces, too.”

Daniels said participating in the campaign brings a sense of empowerment. Her moccasins were made by her uncle. She’s worn them to the United Nations headquarters in New York, in London and across Canada.

Ashley Daniels is one of the many Indigenous people in Canada rocking their mocs this week. (Submitted by Ashley Daniels)

“These moccasins show the life journey I’m on and remembering the people I belong to back home,” said Daniels.

“They remind me of who I am as a Dakota Ojibway woman and they remind me of where I come from — the nation —  and who I come from — my relations — and where I’m going.”

History of Rock Your Mocs

Rock Your Mocs was started in 2011 by Jessica Jaylyn Atsye of Laguna Pueblo, N.M., and beginning in 2013 has been organized by event producer Melissa Sanchez as a worldwide movement every Nov. 15.

Atsye was just 19 when she started a Facebook event for her friends to wear moccasins. It went viral, and has grown each year.

“I’m just a regular Pueblo girl that had an idea, and went worldwide,” said Atsye.

“I just can’t believe how far it’s come and what it’s become. You automatically become your own ambassador for your people as far as just wearing your moccasins raises questions and awareness.”

This year marks the first time the campaign has been extended to a week, running Nov. 9-16. Atsye said it’s been extended to include schools and workplaces in the future when Nov. 15 lands on a weekend.

She said Rock Your Mocs is about unifying Indigenous Peoples globally through social media, promoting cultural pride, and showcasing the diversity of nations.

“It paves the road for younger generations not to be ashamed of where they come from, balancing how modern society is and our traditional and cultural ways of living,” she said.

How to join in

  • Wear your moccasins
  • Take a photo, video or story and upload to social media using the hashtag #RockYourMocs or #RockYourMocs2019
  • Click on the hashtags to see what’s happening worldwide 

For Christine McRae from Whitney, Ont., participating this year has been a way to tell the stories behind each pair of moccasins. 

“It is celebrating the artwork, celebrating the history that goes along with making those moccasins, and even of the patterns if it was inspired by someone’s grandmother and being able to honour those people,” said McRae.

Christine McRae’s moccasins were custom made by designer Jamie Gentry. (Submitted by Christine McRae)

McRae’s moccasins were custom made by Jamie Gentry, a designer from the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, using buffalo hide and a beaded fireweed design.

“It’s also a way of being proud of who we are as Indigenous people,” she said.

“My community is one that has been so disconnected from tradition, culture and language, so being able to outwardly be proud of being an Algonquin person is a really big step.”

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