Indigenous History Month
Celebrating National Indigenous History Month, three Indigenous artists share their work, creative process and inspirations in a special series of short videos.
Beginning June 20, we’ll hear from Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft, Nimkii Osawamick and Santee Smith.
The featured artists, along with YPT,
want to acknowledge the remains of the 215 children
found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
And the many more since then found at residential schools across Canada.
While we continue to educate young people about Canadian history,
the legacy of residential schools, and ongoing injustices,
it is also important to 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.
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.
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. Learn more about Nimkii here.
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.