By RON FANFAIR
It started off as a normal business transaction. The Princess Margaret Hospital last November approached local hat makers, Big It Up International, owned by Jamaican-born Dameon Royes, with a request for headwear for its cancer patients.
While filling the order, the company’s vice-president Paulene Harvey indicated that their product line also include fashionable head wraps produced by Anthony Davis of Peculiar I Designs and expertly fitted by Naza Hasebenebi of For the People Clothing and Head Wraps.
“Naza did a wraps demonstration for them and they were absolutely blown away,” recounted Clarendon-born Harvey who came to Canada in 1983 via England. “Within weeks, the hospital invited us to do monthly workshops at its Wig Salon & Accessories Boutique to show women who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment how beautiful and dignified they can look and feel in head wraps and hats. The interactive workshops also allow patients to design their own wraps.”
Harvey said the ongoing program is both engaging and therapeutic, allowing women facing enormous life-altering challenges to regain a positive self-image.
While enamored with the headwear, Harvey said many women – among them individuals from the Black and other ethnic communities – were unable to buy the products because of the high cost of their medication.
“That was a priority for them to stay alive,” said Harvey. “The cost of buying what really is essential items for their recovery is too much of a financial burden for many patients.”
Harvey, Hasebenebi, Davis and Zain Haj of the Wig Salon teamed up to organize the World Head Wraps fashion show, silent auction and concert which takes place today, November 19, at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.
The funds raised will allow the Wig Salon to provide free wraps, scarves, wigs and hats to patients who cannot afford to purchase the headwear.
“Many communities often tend to be very private about major illnesses such as cancer and shy away from programs and resources that can assist with a healthy recovery,” said Harvey. “Because of the physical and emotional trauma caused by cancer, many women isolate themselves from family and friends and often lose sight of their inner beauty. The loss of hair can be very traumatic for some and the Wig Salon and our group are committed to supporting patients through what is a difficult transition.”
Tonight’s fundraiser will feature African drumming, a 20-minute fashion show by Ryerson University Fashion School and performances by the Baby Boyz dance group, Julie Michels, Rwandan The Mighty Popo whose music is steeped in African traditions, guitarist Danny Nebiat and classical musician, Walweed Abdulhamid.
The event, to be hosted by cancer survivor and CBC reporter Wendy Mesley, starts at 7 p.m.