Emma Morrison has been finding family all over the country.
“No matter where I am, I’m always bumping into people who are cousins,” she says. “They’re always like ‘oh, I know your mom!’”
Since becoming the first Indigenous woman to win the title of Miss World Canada in November 2022, Morrison has been traveling and working at events, speaking to communities and will even be on the catwalk during New York Fashion week this fall.
She will also be representing Canada at the 2024 Miss World pageant.
At all these events, she says there is a sense of family.
“It makes me miss home a little less because it’s helped me realize that family is everywhere,” she says. “Our nation is so big and I’m meeting family everywhere now.”
Morrison is a member of the Chapleau Cree First Nation.
During her run for the national title, her humanitarian project involved making ribbon skirts, which was something she taught herself to do.
“I started making ribbon skirts about two years ago on a tiny little sewing machine that cost me $100 from Canadian Tire,” she says. “I taught myself how to sew by watching YouTube videos and TikTok tutorials.”
The drive to learn about sewing is specifically from wanting to make ribbon skirts and learn the art involved.
“Since then I’ve sewn over 30 skirts,” she says. “I gave some skirts to my foster siblings. They’re away from their home communities, and I wanted them to have that piece of clothing that would remind them to be strong and to be proud of their culture no matter how far away they are from their communities and their families.”
She recently taught a workshop in Chapleau.
“I taught a few ladies to make ribbon skirts and we made about twenty there,” she says. “So that was a really big success, and now we’re writing up a proposal to hold another workshop in Chapleau and Wawa in May or June.”
There’s a lot of learning together in the process, as she’s still figuring out the technical side of sewing.
“I just taught myself online so I don’t know the whole ins and outs of a sewing machine,” she says. “If one of my students gets jammed, I have to work really hard to get them unstuck and figure out what’s going on, but it’s all a learning process too.”
Making ribbon skirts has given her a new way to contribute and help the community that has supported her journey.
“It’s my way of giving back,” she says about the workshops.
The connection to her culture and the significance of having that connection when far from home was a part of her humanitarian work, when she gifted skirts to children in foster care.
“There are a lot of people in my community that I gave ribbon skirts to,” she says. “It’s important for me.”
While the travel and new experiences are exciting, Morrison says there are some things she misses.
“I miss my family whenever I travel,” she says. “Whenever I do come home, I value that time with my friends and my family.”
By Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 27, 2023