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Delta woman one step closer to achieving her dream

Amanda Pleitez, 27, was one of 12 selected for the global makeup diploma at Blanche Macdonald
Throughout the program, students receive daily training and learn a variety of makeup techniques, including the fundamentals, such as how to treat the skin before applying makeup. (Submitted photo)

Amanda Pleitez was flooded with emotions when she found out she was accepted into a makeup program at Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver.

Pleitez said she was sitting at home worried about her future when she received her acceptance email. “It was so crazy, I thought I was in a dream for a second,” said Pleitez. “I was like, wait, this is reality. I had to call a friend and tell her what happened and she was like, Yes, girl, you’re in there,” the Delta resident recalled.

The 27-year-old first heard about the program on Facebook when the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) posted about it in early January. That post was shared over 470 times.

ACCESS was announcing a new program that would sponsor 12 Indigenous students to take the year-long global makeup diploma at Blanche Macdonald. Those interested were told to call ACCESS to apply.

Sybil Mecas, ACCESS’ director of programming and development, said the phone rang off the hook the first day applications opened. They had to update the Facebook post and ask people to be patient.

ACCESS is an organization based in Metro Vancouver that overseas training projects that are run by urban indigenous organizations or partners with public training institutions.

“These project-based training initiatives are designed to assist indigenous people to enter the workforce directly, or to pursue post-secondary education that will eventually lead to future career placements,” Mecas said.

Applicants for the makeup program went through several different stages and were interviewed by staff from ACCESS, Blanche Macdonald, and Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.

“After all the interviews have gone through, we did a little quick check-in and it was very easy to see who was going to (get in),” Mecas said.

Pleitez was one of those Mecas knew would be accepted. “She did very well in her interview,” Mecas said. “She just shone.”

Pleitez feels honoured to be one of the 12 selected. “This is just a dream come true for me,” she said, “and I try not to take it for granted.”

The idea for the program came when Mecas and a colleague, Tami Omeasoo, were at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.

“We were brought to tears, and we even healed by what we witnessed every evening from the Indigenous designers and their shows because they were so different,” Mecas said.

“We also thought about our Indigenous history, knowing the barriers that we’ve overcome. When we were young growing up, we we never got to see this type of thing, so it was amazing.” Mecas said.

Mecas said the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week created a platform for Indigenous artists to showcase their work, and ACCESS wanted to be a part of it.

From there, the idea for the program was born.

Through talks with Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, they thought Blanche MacDonald would be the best place for this program for several reasons.

“First, it was founded by a Métis woman; second, the person who would be teaching the makeup programs is indigenous; and third, Blanche MacDonald was willing to do an all-indigenous cohort,” Mecas said.

(Submitted photo)

Throughout the program, which started in February, students receive daily training and learn a variety of makeup techniques, including the fundamentals, such as how to treat the skin before applying makeup.

The training at Blanche MacDonald will end in November. The “aspiring makeup artists” will then showcase their skills during a practicum at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. The aspiring artists will apply makeup on models walking in Fashion Week.

Mecas said the program’s benefits extend beyond the classroom. “These include the wraparound ACCESS financial support, ACCESS student support coach, and support from the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week’s elders wisdom group,” Mecas said.

Students will also have the opportunity to take cultural education workshops.

After finishing the program, Pleitez’s plan is to be a freelance makeup artist. Her dream job is “a personal celebrity makeup artist,” she said.

While she does not know where her career will take her, she is thankful for the opportunity this program has given her to chase after her dreams.

Pleitez encouraged Indigenous youth to take that first step towards the dream, even if it seems scary. “As Indigenous people, we’ve all had our own individual struggle, but I would not let that define me,” Pleitez said.

“I would definitely take that as a sign that we are a strong and resilient people and whatever you put your mind to, you can definitely do it. I think it’s just having that strength and that courage to take that step.”

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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