Artist to Artist
In “Artist to Artist”, YPT invites Indigenous artists to share their work, creative process and inspirations in a special series of short videos. At the end of every video, each person asks a question of the artist they know will be following them – creating a unique chain of dialogue!
This ongoing series kicked off during National Indigenous History Month in 2021. Featured artists include Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft, Nimkii Osawamick, Santee Smith and Montana Summers. See videos and details below.
The featured artists, along with Young People’s Theatre,
wants to acknowledge the ongoing discoveries of residential school
mass grave sites across Turtle Island – truth that was meant to be
hidden from the public.
While we continue to educate young people about Canadian history,
the legacy of residential schools, and ongoing injustices,
we feel it is also important to continually celebrate
the power of Indigenous resiliency, the beauty of Indigenous art,
and to share this message from the artists:
WE ARE STILL HERE
YPT wants to actively work with Indigenous artists in a meaningful and respectful way. In the spirit of building relationships, YPT has offered each featured artist access to staff resources from all of our departments for their artistic needs. We feel it is important to become involved and fully support Indigenous artists with their work in the ways they want to be supported.
Montana is from the Oneida First Nation of the Thames. Montana began training in the exploration of Indigenous and contemporary dance when he was accepted into the Indigenous Dance Residency (2015) and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Summer Intensive (2016). Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Santee Smith, brought Montana onto projects including The Mush Hole (2016-20), I Lost My Talk – National Arts Centre Orchestra (2016) and for the Grand Act of Theatre – Continuance: Yonkwa’nikonhrakontàhkwen – Our Consciousness Continues Unchanged (2020). Additionally, Montana previously acted for Backyard Theatre’s one time new production called The Other Side of the River (2019). Montana continues to work on his abilities in the performing arts with other small projects from Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, multiple collectives he is apart of, and other colleagues. Montana hopes to inspire youth among his community to chase their dreams.
Santee Smith is an internationally recognized leader in the performing arts, a multidisciplinary artist and producer from the Kahnyen’kehàka (Mohawk) Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. She is one of Canada’s leading dance artists, and holds McMaster University degrees in Physical Education and Psychology along with a Master of Arts in Dance from York University.
In 2005, she founded the Kaha:wi Dance Theatre with a vision to explore the intersection of Indigenous and new performance, international Indigenous collaborations and training. Through her research and creative practise, she is a strong voice for Indigenous dramaturgy, process and advocacy. Santee Smith’s artistic work speaks about identity and Indigenous narratives. Her body of work includes 14 productions and numerous short works which tour nationally and internationally. Her commissions include choreography for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, North American Indigenous Games, among others.
Smith is a sought after teacher and speaker on the performing arts and Indigenous performance and culture, most recently at Stratford Festival. Her life and works have been the topic of TV series and films aired on CBC, NFB, APTN and PBS (US), and most recently on CBC Arts – The Move II. Santee is the 19th Chancellor of McMaster University. Learn more about Santee here.
Nimkii Osawamick is an emerging artist with a deep love for dance, drumming and singing. Odawa/Potawatomi from Wiikwemkoong, Unceded Territory located on beautiful Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Visiting communities and hitting the Powwow trails as a tiny-tot at the age of three — Nimkii merges his traditional, champion Powwow dancing skills, singing and drumming with his own unique artistic style and expression influenced by 90’s hip hop rhythms and rhymes. While also a trained modern dancer, the red road way of life informs Nimkii’s creative process in all endeavours as an artist, community member and father. He remains active in circles as a Hoop dancer and an award-winning dancer across Turtle Island and beyond.
Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft is a Kanien’kehá:ka woman from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. She is a multi-disciplinary artist in a wide spectrum of mediums. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from York University in Theatre Production and Design. She works within the theatre industry with a specialization in costuming. Her past works include the Head of Wardrobe for Balcony, Head of Wardrobe for Two Odysseys, the Costume Designer/Coordinator for The Way of the World, An Octaroon, Phyllis Wheatley Creation, The Marriage of Figaro, African Cargo and Olaudah Equiano Creation.
She is a mural artist working within the city as a member of the RUN Collective. Her past murals are at the Toronto Water Plant, Bob Abate Community Centre, Christie Pitts and so on. An installation piece was just installed at Queen St. and University Ave for the “High Praises” Project, which features work by Nishina and Chris Mitchell that represents the Kanien’kehá:ka language. Currently, she is working with StART as a project coordinator for the Etobicoke Pool Bunkies, as an artist for the Richmond Street Cycle Track Barrier Project and a few other projects.
Nishina is the Operations Administration Assistant at imagineNATIVE and she is the Content Coordinator for Pacha Arts Indigenous Collection. She continues to grow within her field and explore new opportunities.