When the Tragically Hip set out on their final Canadian tour, frontman Gord Downie was is rare form. His costumes were amazing—suits of metallic, iridescent leather and spectacular hats fashioned by Toronto-based milliner Karyn Ruiz.
After the tour, Gord embarked on his last project called The Secret Path, the story of a young aboriginal boy named Chanie Wenjack who died trying to escape his residential school. National Chief Perry Bellegarde ultimately bestowed a great honour on Gord for this work—the Lakota spirit name Wicapi Omani which roughly translates to "Man Who Walks Among the Stars".
My inspiration for this piece draws on the work of Karyn Ruiz, Gord's spirit name, and his personality. The hat illustration and feather arrangements are inspired by Karyn's style. The feathers themselves consist of peacock, owl and eagle. The eagle feather is a nod to Gord's aboriginal work and the title bestowed upon him. The owl feathers are for his wisdom and masterful poetry. And the peacock feathers are for his on-stage persona and the way he carried himself throughout his career.
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