May 7th, 2019 Last Updated on: May 10th, 2019
Jaelyn Goodstriker is from the Kainai Blood Tribe near Lethbridge, Alberta, but is currently living in North Battleford, Saskatchewan with her mother Alexis Tootoosis and two sisters as a high school student. She’s a jingle-dress dancer, beader, and a vocal advocate for her peers.
She's also an Indigenous model that is aiming for the heights of the fashion industry.
Although she’s dedicated to excelling in her schooling, you wouldn’t expect to see her walking the runways from Edmonton, Alberta to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Some of her highlights include showcasing at the Western Canada Fashion Week, participating with the Red Berry Woman Fashion Show, and being selected as a brand ambassador for Helen Oro Designs, an Indigenous fashion company that has showcased in Australia, England, and New Zealand.
On her horizon – she’s traveling to Tokyo, Japan to participate as a model with the Canadian Cultural Trade Mission coordinated by Indg Inc. Indigenous E-Commerce company.
Her inspiration can speak to all of us – there are no Indigenous models in the mainstream fashion industry. She strongly voices that she’s an advocate for her peers, where in Northern Saskatchewan some of the biggest problems her peers face are racism and being treated unfairly.
“There’s a lot of white privilege in our area,” says Jaelyn. “Up here you’re either a cowboy or an Indian and if you’re an Indian you’re using as a drunk or a druggie living off the government. I choose to pursue modeling to get the message out to the public that we are not all like that.”
She recalls aspiring for her goals at the age of 11. “Ever since I can remember the models I saw on television and in magazines were either white or black. I asked myself, ‘why can’t we be a part of the industry?’”
Her biggest advocate is her mother, Alexis Tootoosis who also has modeling experience. Alexis says, “I want her to earn her success, so I push her as much as I can. We are so proud of her success so far and she has such a bright future, but I want her to learn that she has to work hard to achieve her goals.”
However, advocacy is challenging for any single parent and covering costs from traveling distances thousands of miles away without sponsorship can take its toll. “Our entire family sacrifices for her aims in fashion,” says Alexis. “It’s tough to make every appearance and sometimes we have to stay put due to restraints.”
Restraints are no deterrence for Jaelyn though. She strives to reach her goals as a student, model, and advocate. Balancing all three has its challenges, too. Her emphasis in being recognized for something that is positive and uplifting is why she works so hard. Part of that challenge is constantly representing herself and her family in a good way. How she does that is she seeks every opportunity she can and when life gets challenging and she’s feeling down, she keeps it to herself instead of declaring her feelings on social media.
“I want to remain as positive as possible,” says Jaelyn. “So many Native girls don’t know where they are going in life and I don’t want to show a bad example.”
Being in the fashion industry has many challenges shares Jaelyn where rejection is almost a normal thing. “I’ve heard it all: I’m too young, too short, too little, but that is what keeps me going.”
One of Jaelyn’s most important goals in the midst of the limelight of the fashion industry is advocating for her peers and the fashion industry is what strengthens her. Important to her are speaking against sexual harassment and sexual abuse. “I know what it feels like to not be heard,” says Jaelyn. “I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t be heard and I try to encourage my friends to feel better about themselves.”
What is most important to her is for the world to recognize that Indigenous peoples are still here. “We’re the same as anyone else, but we were here first and our story needs to be heard,” says Jaelyn. “When I think of what I want people to know about indigenous people, it’s our culture is not a costume. I think indigenous women are not objects. We are treated like objects; so many of us are missing and gone, like we are disposable.”
She is just getting started.
Home » Blog »
Explore Native Culture
TAGGED: alberta jaelyn goodstriker kainai blood tribe