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Paddling Upstream – Read Now!


The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project (ICSP) began in 2019 with the goal of prioritizing Indigenous self-determination in cultural spaces across, what we now call, Ontario. The foundation of this project has always been to support Indigenous-led arts spaces, stepping away from Western artistic paradigms that predicate the design, operation, and governance of arts and heritage spaces, and make way for Indigenous autonomy and connection with the land.

Since the beginning, this project has been guided by an Advisory Circle and Co-Conveners, while supported by ArtsBuild Ontario. In 2020-22, we started the project journey with Community Gatherings and Legacy Stories. Community Gatherings brought together Indigenous artists, arts organizations, and community members across the province to speak about what is needed to seed and cultivate Indigenous creative spaces. In the Legacy Stories, we heard community members share lived histories and relationships to their current and future spaces.

These Community Gatherings and Legacy Stories formed the roots of Paddling Upstream. This document, compiled by Dr. Terri-Lynn Brennan, CEO of Inclusive Voices Inc., illustrates three years of project work, including over 35 hours, 700 pages of recorded transcripts, and 183 voices who contributed to this living document. Within this work, four key bundles became apparent, all within the umbrella of self-determination.

The bundles focus on Land; Individual, Family, and Community Health; Funding, Training and Mentorship; and Reciprocity.

This document is intended to give voice to Indigenous creators across Ontario and the depth of struggles and accomplishments in building and sustaining spaces for Indigenous artists. To learn more about the integral work that needs to be done in order to support the Indigenous arts ecology in Ontario, read Paddling Upstream here:

Paddling Upstream English

Paddling Upstream French

In addition to the document, we invite you to a corresponding conversation with Dr. Terri-Lynn Brennan, CEO of Inclusive Voice Inc., and collaborators JP Longboat, Artistic Director of Circadia Indigena and Alex Glass, Executive Director of ArtsBuild Ontario to further explore the pathway to creating this document as well as the core bundles Paddling Upstream highlights.

Register now for the Paddling Upstream: Indigenous Creative Spaces Project Webinar on Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 from 1:30-2:30 PM EST.

The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project is supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Council for the Arts.

Register Now! New Moon Dialogue Series


Join us for the fourth and fifth sessions of the New Moon Dialogue Series! You can register now for the two sessions happening on Wednesday, May 3rd.

Session 1: Debahjemuhjig Theatre Group: Developing the Creation Centre lead by Lynda Trudeau

Debahjemuhjig Theatre Group create original theatre/live performance productions that represent Indigenous world views, language, culture, and histories. Recently, Debajehmujig Theatre Group embarked on a project to develop their Creation Centre. General Manager, Lynda Trudeau will speak on the journey from conception to present use and future plans.

Register here!

Session 2: Creating and Maintaining Culturally Safe Creative Spaces lead by JP Longboat 

In the creation and development of fully Indigenous creative and cultural spaces, how can Indigenous creators navigate mainstream venues and systems of engagement? When settler spaces/organizations need to do the work of Truth and Reconciliation leading to true inclusion, how can Indigenous creators offer guidance and knowledge to sensitize and Indigenize these spaces? JP will give a voice to the lived Indigenous experiences and talk about the needs and recommendations that are currently affecting the sector.

Register here!

Note: These dialogues may explore culturally sensitive material. The information shared in these sessions may not be extracted for any reasons other than personal knowledge. The audience is encouraged to listen. Questions will be taken at the end.

Highlights from LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT

ArtsBuild Ontario’s (ABO) LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT program has now come to a close – thank you to everyone who made this program a success!

LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT was delivered as a two-part series of workshops, webinars, and virtual consultations on the topics of Engaging Community, Alternative Financing Methods, Building/Renovating and Managing/Maintaining creative spaces and capital projects.

To celebrate the conclusion to LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT, we would like to share some program highlights.



A total of 57 registrants participated in the workshops for the program, 92 registrants attended the webinars, and 31 participants took part in the virtual consultations!

Looking at it from a slightly different lens, each community workshop and virtual consultation saw the participation of many different organizations:

  • Guelph: 13 organizations
  • Orangeville: 12 organizations
  • Cambridge: 9 organizations
  • Waterloo: 12 organizations
  • Kitchener: 14 organizations


Common Needs Identified

  • Innovative use of space
  • Planning a Capital Project
  • Funding
  • Accessibility

Key Takeaways

  • Practical and useful information on construction management
  • Clarification of the scope for an RFP and feasibility studies
  • Key questions to ask stakeholders
  • Better understanding of building management and asset management
  • Up-to-date information on what potential resources are available

Thank you to everyone who helped grow this program in the past few years – and thank you to our presenters: Jeremy Freiburger (Cobalt Connects), Julia Vlad (Community Forward Fund) and Christina Baker (Community Micro Lending Society, formerly Community Forward Fund), Randy Dalton (Dalton Company) and Bryn Jones (Conestoga College, formerly WalterFedy).

CSMN 2020-21 Ends, & A New Iteration Begins


As one iteration for the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network closes, another one opens! We are grateful for everyone who took part in the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network 2020-2021 program, and we are pleased to officially welcome everyone participating in the CSMN 2021-2022 program. The 2021-2022 iteration kicked off on June 9 in preparation for the official start date of June 30 and we could not be more excited to hear about the developments of your creative space projects.


As a farewell to our 2020-2021 iteration of the program, a number of previous mentees would like to offer some final words as the program comes to a close:

“The mentoring process exposed me to new ideas and revelatory ways of thinking and problem solving. Just by listening to the perspectives and experiences of my mentor, Stephen Remus, we were developing innovative solutions for our creative spaces. The mentoring program by ArtsBuild Ontario supports and empowers arts administrators by developing their skills, confidence and networks.”

-Janet Jarrell, Executive Director of Quinte Arts Council


“We’re creating a neighbourhood support network that’s going to bring the arts and the other sectors right up into the forefront! We are as curious as anyone as to what this hub is eventually going to look like. My mentor, Olinda Casimiro, comes with a strong economic background and she has a really good sense of big picture dynamics. We’re just so grateful for her walking this journey with us, and yes, COVID has slowed us down, but I’m really happy with the DNA that we have found for what this eventually will become! Olinda has been very helpful strategically with us in that.”

-Hardy Steinke, Executive Director of Heart Comonos


“With the help of Heather Kelly, founder of HKC Marketing, I was able to move forward with my Flick the Switch Artists’ Collective Art Marketing Project. The Shopify website learning curve was overwhelming and there are so many other decisions to make.  Working alone is very difficult, but Heather helped me write a better plan, kept me on track, put things in perspective, and gave a lot of really good ideas! It’s been such a relief to have someone so bright and wise and full of ideas with whom to discuss strategies.”

-Susan N. Stewart, Founder of Flick the Switch Artists’ Collective


If you would like to learn more about the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network 2021-2022 iteration, please visit our webpage.

ArtsBuild Ontario’s New Resource Library Launched

ArtsBuild Ontario is happy to launch the newly revamped Resource Library! The Resource Library includes external resources on Building, Managing, Financing, and Greening your creative spaces. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive collection of external resources to support the development and sustainability of non-profit, arts, heritage, community, and faith-based organizations’ spaces and projects. ArtsBuild Ontario is happy to offer this resource, and we look forward to growing it even more over time!

Click here to visit the Resource Library!

44 Gaukel Street
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4P3