An 18-year-old Saskatchewan woman became the first Indigenous model to open for a Dior fashion show, in late February. Now the model, from Fishing Lake First Nation, advocates for more representation on the runway.
Heather Diamond Strongarm wants to see more Indigenous people in the fashion industry.
“Indigenous people’s contributions to the fashion industry are often appropriated or overlooked, so we need to break those barriers and show people that we’re still here,” Strongarm told CTV News.
She was recently named Vogue’s ‘Top 10 Standout Models of Fall 2023’.
“I was shocked when I saw it. I didn’t think I would be one of the top 10 models,” she said.
Strongarm walked her first runway show modelling for Proenza Schouler at New York Fashion Week earlier this year. Since then she travelled around the world and celebrated her 18th birthday in Milan. She said her biggest accomplishment was simply getting started.
“I was always a shy and anxious person, and it took a lot for me to get out of my comfort zone,” she said.
She began her career in 2021 when she attended a modelling workshop in her home First Nation. She soon caught the eye of Anita Norris with Anita Norris Model Management (ANM).
“Immediately, I saw potential,” Norris said.
“For an agent, it’s such a joy to see something that you start just take off so quickly.”
Strongarm also signed with New York agency The Society Management. She spends most of her time in the big apple but stays close to her roots.
“Things that keep me grounded are coming home to my family members or else just coming back home to my community,” Strongarm said.
She plans to follow in her family’s footsteps and pursue a career in social work. For now, she continues to strut the catwalk and hopes to one day work with well-known fashion company Chanel.