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Take that, Pamela Anderson
Gone Wild fashion show in Fort Smith to feature clothes of fur and hide, and honour hunting and trapping lifestyle

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 13, 2014

THEBACHA/FORT SMITH
As odd as it may seem, Pamela Anderson has inspired a new event in Fort Smith - a fashion show to honour the hunting and trapping lifestyle.

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Patti-Kay Hamilton of Fort Smith models the sealskin hat with white fox trim, which she received as a Christmas present and inspired her to create Gone Wild, a fashion show and more to honour the hunting and trapping lifestyle. The jacket is of beaver, which Hamilton trapped herself, and it was made by her brother John Hamilton, who was once a furrier. The mitts are blue seal fur with white fox trim made for Hamilton by Aiyu Peter of Iqaluit. - photo courtesy of Patti-Kay Hamilton

The former Baywatch star and animal rights activist was involved in a mid-December stunt to offer $1 million to stop sealing on the East Coast, and that so outraged Fort Smith's Patti-Kay Hamilton that she decided to take action.

"As a hunter myself, as a person who lived on a trap line and has many friends who are hunters and trappers, I found it very offensive," said Hamilton. "And about a week later Santa gave me a sealskin hat with white fox fur."

The gift reminded her of all proud hunters and trappers - past and present - and the skilled craftspeople who transform fur and hide into works of art.

"So I thought of this idea of having a fashion show to honour our culture of hunting and trapping in this community," Hamilton said. "That's how the idea started. It kind of started just as a simple little plan and it really has exploded just because of the enthusiastic response that we've received, not just locally but in the region and in the North from other people."

She noted Fort Smith is a community of hunters, but sometimes the hunting culture and tradition may be taken for granted.

"We're not doing enough to showcase it and pay attention to it," she said.

Plus, Hamilton pointed out the fur industry is under siege from people like Anderson, and there's so much misunderstanding about hunting and trapping.

"We should be proud of who we are," she said. "We are hunters and trappers. Let's boast about it."

The event - to be called Gone Wild - will be held Feb. 22 at the Fort Smith Rec Centre.

It has already begun to attract attention from outside Fort Smith. For example, some garments are expected to be sent from the fur design program at Nunavut Arctic College.

One of the people helping Hamilton with the project is Marnie Villeneuve, a hunter along with her whole family, and a self-described lover of fur and the Northern

lifestyle.

"It really disturbed me when Pamela Anderson got all that press again," Villeneuve said. "It really upset me that somebody that is so uneducated and so far from living our life in the North is considered to be somebody that has some say or some knowledge about what we live, what we do, who we are."

Hamilton said the original idea for the fashion show was a small event with community residents modelling some of their fur and hide clothing.

"It's become 'Gone Wild' and it's a good title because it's kind of what's happening with it," she said.

Hamilton said the centrepiece of Gone Wild will be the fashion show, which will showcase all kinds of garments made of fur and hide.

"It will be very glamourous and it's going to be elegant," she said.

Among the notable items will be a pair of pants made of polar bear fur, a bikini made from fur and several garments crafted from fox fur dyed pink.

Villeneuve is co-ordinating the fashion show.

"We're hoping to have a multitude of models from young to old," she said, adding the clothes will showcase fur through the ages from traditional to contemporary use.

"I just think it's going to be a spectacular event," Villeneuve said. "Fort Smith comes together and puts on some highfalutin events."

A trainer from Yellowknife will help young models in Fort Smith prepare for the fashion show by learning how to be poised and elegant on the catwalk.

In addition to the fashion show, there will be a marketplace for vendors.

"The wares will need to reflect the Northern wilderness in some way," Hamilton said, noting participants may include craftspeople, moccasin makers, photographers, artists, fishers and even a bison rancher from Alberta.

Another person involved in the event is Janie Hobart, who will be co-ordinating a wine-tasting event for after the fashion show.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Hobart said of the overall event. "One of the reasons that Fort Smith exists is because of the fur trade. It's a great way to celebrate our heritage and also to celebrate the people that are continuing to hunt and trap in our community."

Hamilton said she doesn't know if Gone Wild might become a yearly event, although she added, "Just based on the response, I think it could be a wonderful annual

event."

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