• Photoshoot with celebrity photographer Maurice Rinaldi. Pic: Maurice Rinaldi photo.com (Maurice Rinaldi)Source: Maurice Rinaldi
With Sydney’s Mercedes Benz fashion week well under way, inspired young Indigenous models are planning to strut into the international scene with the support of some very special women.
Kate Eastoe

20 May 2016 - 6:51 PM  UPDATED 20 May 2016 - 6:55 PM

20-year-old Wiradjuri woman Zoe Byrne has been selected as part of the modeling team for the Indigenous Runway Project’s newest event in Saskatoon, Canada, later this year.

The beauty from Orange hopes to act as a role model to young Indigenous girls.

“I want to send the message that Aboriginality isn’t about the colour of your skin, but a pride in your culture and family” says Zoe, ahead of her trip to Canada.

She says that she would have loved to have seen more Indigenous models in the media when she was growing up, but is excited to be part of something which is changing the profile of the fashion scene. 

Zoe has started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to help with the costs of the trip to Canada, where she will be joined on the catwalk by one of her eight siblings, 24-year-old sister Mariah.

Tina Waru, CEO of the Indigenous Runway Project has been a mentor and source of inspiration to Zoe and many other young Indigenous groups.

"This program will help them not only to feel empowered in themselves but fulfill their responsibilities to their culture by empowering others.”

She says the Runway Project’s platform was created to give aspirational pathways for Indigenous youth to become involved in the fashion industry.

The project highlights more than the modeling side of the industry, working with Indigenous designers from all over the world to showcase their work.

After the success of an Indigenous Runway Project event in March, in conjunction with Melbourne Fashion Week, Tina was contacted by First Nations brothers and sisters from Canada who told her how much they would love to have the same opportunity brought to them.

So far the project has run in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia, bringing together youth in a cultural exchange played out on the catwalk.

As well as fashion experience, the trip to Canada includes an immersion leadership program which Mrs Waru hopes will give the participants the confidence to become great community leaders to inspire future generations.

“These young ones will one day be the voices of their communities. This program will help them not only to feel empowered in themselves but fulfill their responsibilities to their culture by empowering others” she said.

The event will be held from September 17 to October 8 in Saskatoon, Canada. The team will also travel through Montana and Beverly Hills.