Updated: Apr 7, 2020
By Skyler Isaac
Teagyn Vallevand stands resplendent, royally garbed in her Rendezvous regalia. She is adorned in a button blanket and a headdress. The color arrangement for these articles consists of a bold red and black. The headdress features exquisitely-beaded ornaments, and the rear of her button blanket is covered in traditional First Nations art.
It’s a wardrobe fit for a Queen.
This stunning fashion statement is not a regular one for Rendezvous Queen contenders, but it’s one that has been carefully cultivated by Vallevand. It’s one that holds a deep, personal connection for her.
According to Teagyn, it was a process to be allowed to incorporate her traditional First Nations adornments into her Queen wardrobe.
“Regalia is a really important thing to me, and I want to be able to incorporate that into my outfits,” she says, “That discussion of me being able to wear the regalia has been a little tricky. I know that Rendezvous…they definitely want to support that, they just don’t really know how to include the First Nations component. It’s tough when you think about it. If you’re stuck in your own way for so long, it’s hard to change, it’s uncomfortable. But it’s important to change in a positive way, it’s important for Rendezvous to be inclusive.”
Her bid for the 2018 Rendezvous Crown isn’t Teagyn’s first positive contribution to her culture and community. She’s been playing an active role within the town for years now, teaching workshops on lateral violence and kindness along with her business partner, Aurora Hardy.
All of this is an attempt to teach the sorts of subjects that Teagyn herself didn’t have access to when she was in school. “My First Nations grad ceremony was probably the first time I actually felt proud of myself and for my cultural identity,” says Teagyn, “In high school, [I wasn’t] really able to learn about that part of my history. Having topics like residential school get skimmed over, and then just not getting that part of Yukon history…[because of that], I wasn’t very connected, and it didn’t make me feel very good about myself for having a mixed background.
“And so, after graduation, I got a job at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and just started researching, learning about all the stuff I missed in high school, and just educating myself. The more I read, the angrier I got inside. I felt like I wanted to do something, I wanted to do more for my community. I just didn’t know what to do, because I’m just a kid right out of high school, don’t really know what I’m doing with life. And then I just started volunteering at different community events. I would literally show up to anything, and then just volunteer for [it]. The more I started getting out there, the more opportunities started coming my way.
“I really want to be helpful in the community, and be a good role model, one I wish I could have had when I was in high school.”
Teagyn’s passion for both her First Nations culture and the community at large make her an obvious choice for a Rendezvous Queen contender. This year she will be running under the banner of both Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Shakat Journal. According to Teagyn, her appointment to the task was another example of just how rewarding the experience of giving back to the community can be. “I got here because I supported my community. In turn, my community supported me,” she says, “[They] want to see me succeed.
“With Rendezvous, I got asked by my community and Lance [Burton] to represent Kwanlin Dun. It means a lot to me to be able to represent my culture in this way. Being able to [do so] is special to me. It makes me want to participate, it fuels my desire to do more.”
On the topic of doing more, Teagyn is also ambitious when it comes to what she plans on accomplishing if she were to win the crown. “The first thing I would probably want to do is to have a discussion about First Nations Culture being represented as a part of Rendezvous. First Nations history is Yukon history, and that’s Rendezvous history. It needs to be included.”
Perhaps one of Teagyn’s favorite aspects of the candidate lifestyle is having the opportunity to explain the Shakat Journal to those who are unaware of what it is. “When I’m out selling tickets, I’ll say, “I’m Miss Kwanlin Dun/Shakat” and they’ll ask what that is. It piques their interest, it makes me proud. I think Shakat Journal is so cool. It makes me feel good to share that with [people].”
With her important values, remarkable personality, and ambitious goals, it’s fair to say that those of us at Shakat are happy to have someone like Teagyn Vallevand so regally representing us.