Saturday, December 20, 2014

Indigenous/First Nations Holiday Wish List

So we are officially on our Christmas break and that got me to thinking about what I would ask Santa for this year.  I have realized that the designers that I want to sport are all Indigenous and so Santa better send some elves to the Rez.

1. A gorgeous scarf by Aboriginal Apparel 

scarf modelled by the Designer Deanne Hupfield
You can find them on Facebook

2. We Share Our Matters - Two Centuries of writing and resistance at Six Nations of the Grand River - Rick Monture

3. Kamamak Cosmetics I am a big fan of makeup.  I really want to try out this line.  I love the bold colours and the shades of concealer and BB cream seem much more natural to me. 

4. Element City BagAngela Demontigny

Sigh...someday I will own one of these bags...

5. Parka by Shawna Dias from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

I love every single one of the parkas she has photos of on her Facebook page

6. Nk'Mip Pinot Blanc

7. Great Lakes Cultural Camps

Check them out here to see some amazing adventure and educational opportunities.  I just love how they are able to meld those together for a complete experience.

I love this piece but then again there isn't a piece in their gallery that I don't love.  

9. Rumble - Derek Miller 

I really really want this record.

I realize this came out last year however anyone who knows me knows that I am very far behind in my movie watching.  This looks great to me. 

So that is my wish list for this year.  I didn't even include any jewellers and I loves me some jewellery.  I will end the list off here as I could go on and on.  Happy Holidays from our family to yours.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ryan McMahon and the #6amsessions

I just finished watching the Ryan McMahon show live streamed on the #6amsessions which you can find at  If you want to know what is going on in contemporary Indigenous art then this is where you should be looking.  Just a short time ago the #6amsessions launched with a live stream all musical entertainment show.  

Watching Ryan's show tonight I was completely drawn into the stories he was telling and I could relate to so many of the situations he described.  It felt more like we were having a good visit then being at a comedy club, where the laughs almost feel forced.  Maybe it was because I was watching from home in my jammies on my couch but either way he actually had me laughing so hard I cried.  

At the end of the set Host Derek Miller sat with Ryan on the "dump couch" (set decoration on a very limited budget) and had a  discussion about Indigenous Legends and Heroes such as Gordon Tootoosis and Charlie Hill and so many others which led me to the Red Man Laughing podcast which I am now going to subscribe to.  Ryan's passion for leaving a legacy of Our Cultural Icons for future generations is just so inspiring.

I can't wait to see what 6 arrows media has planned next. The whole experience feels so unrestrained and unfiltered.  

The production value was top notch.  The studio that this is taped in Thru the Red Door, is based on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.  I even enjoyed watching the cute commercials for our local businesses.  

Recent Shows at TDSB schools

I thought I would share some snippets of our shows this week in Toronto.  It seems like a constant battle to try to keep current video and photos available.  

Quite often the youngest students aren't invited to our performances because of space issues in the schools.  Well this afternoon the Kindergarten teacher was able to squeeze her class into our performance.  We were happy to see them because their energy is amazing.

We look forward to visiting your school in the near future. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


We were at a public school in Toronto that had a strong First Nations focus today.  The staff and students were pretty awesome and made us feel right at home.

These little shawl dancers came to visit us as we packed up to leave the school.  They made me so happy.  Now these little girls were so nice to us that they shared their bear paw snacks with us.  That's what I call a good day.

Last week we visited a couple of different schools in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.  We were surprised with this gift after our presentations.  That is the most thoughtful gift as the "Me to We" initiative is something we greatly support.  

We were given a cedar tree at one of the schools as well.  This was pretty amazing.  I really really hope I can keep it alive long enough to transplant it.  I feel like a cartoon character as I love plants so much but just cannot keep them alive.  

On the day we visited one of the Teachers happened to wear this shirt.  He made a point of coming to tell us that he didn't wear it on purpose but this led into a really interesting discussion around cultural appropriation which I sincerely hope he takes up with his class.  These types of discussions are exactly what we hope our presentations prompt with teachers in their classrooms.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Craig Keilburger SS - Residency with Dance program students

I spent a week working with students in the dance program at Craig Keilburger SS in Milton.  I guided the students through coming up with their own choreography for this Fancy Shawl dance piece.  I am very proud of the students, they worked very hard.  The girls were sore in muscles they weren't used to using, especially the competitive dancers in class.  I was honoured to work with such a group of hard working, respectful, fun girls.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where have we been lately?

These are photos from some recent things we have been up to.  Some of it as Tribal Vision, some of it as individual artists.  

Derek and I are part of the Ontario Arts Council's "Aboriginal Artists in Schools" program.  The pop cans above were made by students at a school in Cambridge to use as shakers or noise makers. They used them when we visited the school last month.  

Some of the group were asked to dance at the Dreamcatcher Gala this year at the Hamilton Convention Centre.  My photo shop skills are not good sadly.  

We were honoured to take part in the Opening Ceremonies for the 2015 Elite Boxing Championships in Mississauga ON.  

We are very supportive of our local arts scene and were thrilled to be invited to help out at the launch of the 6 Arrows Media "#6amsessions" project.    If you have a few minutes click through to their site and watch the show.  It was really good.  

We also took part in a flashmob at a Hockey game for Laurier Brant Aboriginal Students Association.  I really wish we had some photos or video because it was really fun.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Our visit to James Bay

The drive to Eastmain, QC took us approximately 17 hours and was absolutely nothing like I thought it would be.  I had visions of terrible roads and bears basically terrorizing drivers as they try to get back among humans.  Of course I was wrong.  It was a beautiful drive with a stretch of about 5 hours where we were out of cell service but the scenery was incredible.

The community of Eastmain really has some nice facilities, a great gym, swimming pool and work out room.  A great space for a powwow.  

The host families that looked after the powwow participants were so accommodating.  They really took great care of us.  This is Dorothy, we were very grateful to stay in her home.  Literally in minutes it felt like we were old friends.  Oh and the food was so good that I had to dance every single intertribal just to not gain 10 lbs.  I see you committee, I see what you did there.  :)

The committee did such a great job of planning this event.  There were so many fun specials and I absolutely loved all the community engagement.  Most powwows that we attend in Southern Ontario, NY state and surrounding areas seem to really try to gear events to the spectators.  I really loved that this powwow geared their events towards trying to get the local community involved.  Lots of fun specials such as a free style two step where a dancer in regalia must find a local community member as a partner.  My partner and I took 2nd place in that special by the way.  (darn, no pictures).  A best Ribbon Shirt contest (which Derek won in the adult division) and my favourite was the home made regalia contest.    The photo above is the winner.  If you look closely at the details of her dress you can see all the creativity that she put into it.  Her dress was made of pink plastic table cloth and garbage bag sleeves, candy for jingles, coffee filters for hair accessories and to top it off she had plastic forks for her feather fan and for the feathers in her hair.  So so so good!

Rosary and Jacob joined us from Toronto.  Rosary got in on the 2 man Hand drum singing contest.  Wow, can this lady sing!  To say I was impressed was definitely an under statement.  This is probably a good time to mention that all of the drums were jamming.  Nothing better than a jamming song to get you moving.

This was our crew for the weekend.  We had such a great time with Deanne and John, and Rosary and Jacob that the weekend just flew by.  Some of us were able to arrive in time to participate in the Goose Dance ceremony.  The whole cultural weekend was just what we all needed to rejuvenate our batteries for the new school year.  To all those still wrapping up their powwow season, safe travels.  Hope to see you at a round dance or social sometime over the fall/winter season.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eastmain, QC powwow

We will be attending the Cree Nation of Eastmain Traditional powwow in early September.  We will be doing some smoke dance demonstrations.  I am really looking forward to it.  We really like to visit powwows and celebrations that we have never been before so this is going to be great.   If you're up that way, come on out and say hi!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Don't Just Talk About It

For the past few months I have been working on a short film project titled "Don't Just Talk About It". You can check out the Facebook page here.  Cher Obediah contacted me early in the spring to talk about the possibility of teaching her how to Powwow dance for this film and to be honest I was very very close to saying no.  But something about the project and the whole feel of the film, which is to push yourself and to get out of your comfort zone spoke to me.  We met every couple of weeks for several months to practice and in the end she chose the Fancy Shawl Dance, which is my favourite.  I promise I did not try to sway her, I let her try all the styles and decide what felt the most comfortable.    I think the hardest part to teach was the concept of being in the moment.  I understand that she had to make sure the film making aspect was working out as well but getting Cher to let go of that and just listen to the drum and move was by far her biggest hurdle.  In the end she did great.  When she danced with all the other Fancy Shawl dancers I hung back a bit so that I could also watch and she had the slightest smile the whole time...

Cher chose the New Credit Three Fires Homecoming Powwow to be where she danced for the first time.  They were really great and supportive of the project and of Cher.  I am sad that my part in the project is complete but I honestly can't wait to see the finished project.

For more information on Cher follow this link...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Long Plain, Manitoba Powwow 2014

We hit up Long Plain powwow on our way home from NAIG.  We had never been to this celebration before so we weren't sure how big it was or what the camping situation was like.  In the end the consensus was that we would go back again for sure.  The "midnight special" men's fancy dance was pretty fun to watch.  There were a number of other specials through out the weekend and the MC's kept things moving at a quick pace.  All in all a very enjoyable powwow.  

Teen Girls Fancy Shawl line up

Teen Boys Fancy Feather

Senior Men's Fancy Feather line up

North American Indigenous Games 2014

We travelled to Regina, Saskatchewan for NAIG 2014.  We had two kids playing for Team Ontario.  One on the U16 boys volleyball team and one on the U16 girls soccer team.  As we took our time driving out we stopped for gas and saw this big ole moose.

Moments after we left the gas station we see a live moose sauntering across the road.  I actually saw two that day but I was driving when I saw the second, larger one so I wasn't able to get a picture.

Yes, we are goofy and stop to take touristy pictures whenever we can.  

Once we got to Regina and got our athletes settled in to the athletes village it was time to find our way to the Opening Ceremonies.  The Opening ceremonies were fantastic, quite the production, very well executed and entertaining.  There were quite a few musical guests and the hand over ceremony of the paddle from the last Host of NAIG in BC to the current Treaty 4 hosts in Saskatchewan was pretty cool.

I really underestimated the size and scope of the games.  Seeing the parade of athletes was almost an emotional experience.  They all looked so happy and proud to be representing their communities and Provinces/States.

After the athletes entered the stadium the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company did a history of Saskatchewan from the last Ice age to present day.  It was so creative that we really enjoyed it.  These buffalo head props were so simple yet effective.

Running concurrent to the games was a separate cultural village with workshops and performances scheduled for each day.  There was even a tent of vendors.  We only made it to the village twice but we were super excited to catch Murray Porter on stage.  

Team Ontario U16 Girls Soccer fought hard throughout the tournament to take the gold!  

Team Ontario U16 Boys Volleyball came through for a Bronze Medal!  In the end Team Ontario ended up third overall in the medal standings behind first place BC and second place Saskatchewan.

Thank you to all the Organizers, Host community, and Volunteers for such a wonderful experience that will be remembered forever.  Nia:wen ASWCO for all the hard work that allowed all the athletes a once in a lifetime experience.