Indigenous creative spaces provide artists, organizations, and communities with space to create and experience Indigenous art and art-making. The aim of the Indigenous Creative Spaces Project is to support communities in developing and realizing their vision to create and sustain existing and future Indigenous creative spaces across the province. The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project is organized in partnership with an Indigenous Advisory Circle, Co-Conveners, and ArtsBuild Ontario.
In 2020-21, 10 round table gatherings across Ontario will be held with Indigenous artists, organizations, groups, and communities around space for artistic and cultural production. Gatherings will discuss the vision, creation, location, leadership, and sovereignty of Indigenous arts spaces. Notes from each gathering as well as a document summarizing the gatherings will be posted on the ArtsBuild Ontario website.
In 2021-22, 10 written stories highlighting Indigenous creative spaces will be published, and 5 webinars will be produced. A webpage will be created, titled “Our Stories:” stories will share unique details of each organization and creative space, noting their journey of acquiring or building their space which includes their vision, needs, community support for the space/organization, sovereignty of the space/organization, lessons learned, suggested best practices and more.
In 2021-2022, a Needs and Recommendations Report will be developed from information gathered from discussions and learning from the round table gatherings and case studies. The purpose of the report is to identify the needs of Indigenous creative spaces, as well as best practices and recommendations for the development of Indigenous creative spaces across the province.
More information on the Needs & Recommendations Report to come.
In 2022-23, workshops on best practices for Indigenous creative spaces, to support Indigenous artists, organizations, groups, and creative communities, will be offered in the 10 participating communities where the round table gatherings took place.
An additional workshop, How to Support Indigenous Creative Spaces as an Ally, will also be offered during this time.
More information on the workshops to come.
Thank you very much to the Co-Conveners and Indigenous Advisory Circle members for your dedicated work on this project.
JP Longboat is a storyteller, multi-disciplinary artist, and choreographer. He is Mohawk, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. He has extensive professional training and practice in traditional and contemporary forms of visual art and live performance. JP has trained, collaborated, and performed with many professional theatre and dance companies across Canada. His work emanates from the cultural ways of his people: language, territory, teachings, and stories shared within Longhouses and lodges, gatherings, and circles. His creative process is grounded in First Nations artistic experience, practice, and legacy.
He is the founder and Artistic Director of Circadia Indigena – Indigenous Arts Collective based in Ottawa. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance.
Dr. Terri-Lynn Brennan, as CEO of Inclusive Voices Inc., builds the capacity of grassroots to corporate planning and policy development through Inter-Cultural Design-Thinking and Place-Making strategies and implementation. Terri combines a 30-year professional global career in Inter-Cultural Community Development with her most recent clients being the Town of Canmore, SPARC, CAPACOA, IPAA, the Ottawa Museums Network and The ArQuives. She is also a national trainer for the Cultural Human Resource Council of Canada delivering workshops on Respectful Workplaces in the Arts. Terri is of Haudenosaunee and British descent. Her family originates from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario.
Indigenous Advisory Circle
, Temagami First Nation, is a proficient resilient Indigenous storyteller. She began her career with Christine Friday In the Land of Spirits in 1992 and has maintained a professional dance career for over 25 years of choreographing, solo work, commissioned work, youth creations, and full-scale productions. She is deeply connected to the cultural wellness of her people and works hard to maintain the cultural traditions and gifts of her Anishnaabe people. She recently launched her company – Friday Creeations, a film, and stage Production Company – allowing her to transition her skills into filmmaking to broaden her audience while fulfilling her potential.
She recently won the 2018 KM Hunter Award for dance through the Ontario Arts Council; this award is given to those who demonstrate an original artistic voice while encouraging the artist to propel to the next level. Her intention is to awaken people within themselves, creating a shift change in the world by reflecting reality and the human experience.
is a Métis non–binary multi-artist living and working between Sturgeon Falls and Toronto, Ontario. Clayton holds a BA in Fine Art from Nipissing University and received Graphic Design certification from Canadore College. With an extensive history working in Artist-Run Culture and Community Arts, and through their own activism, Clayton works towards healthier relationships for national and global Indigenous artists and communities. Clayton Windatt
The former Executive Director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, Clayton maintains contracts with several colleges and universities, arts magazines, arts councils, arts organizations, and other organizations as a critical writer, columnist, and consultant in addition to pursuing their independent arts practice. Clayton is an active filmmaker and director with works featured in festivals such as
ImagineNative and the Toronto International Film Festival, and recent commissions by the National Film Board of Canada. Clayton works in/with community, design, communications, curation, performance, theatre, technology, and consulting, and is a very active writer, filmmaker, and visual media artist and was recently appointed to the National Gallery of Canada’s Board of Trustees.
is from Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan. Janis is currently the Executive Director of the Janis Monture Woodland Culture Centre, one of the largest First Nations-run cultural centres/museums in the country. Previously, Janis was appointed the Director of Tourism and Cultural Initiatives for the Six Nations Development Corporation from 2017 – 2020. From 2003 – early 2017, Janis was the Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre. In her capacity with Woodland, Janis was a steering committee member for the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures, and a committee member for the Arts & Culture Advisory Council for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan American Games. For two brief 18-month periods, Janis was on secondment to Harbourfront Centre as the Guest Artistic Director of Planet IndigenUS in 2009 and 2015.
Janis attended the University of Western Ontario where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in History and received a Museum Studies diploma from Algonquin College. Janis continues to volunteer in her community at Six Nations and in Brantford with various organizations.
is a mixed ancestry Algonquin anishinaabe-kwe and Associate Artistic Producer and Director of Jenn Cole Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space in Nogojiwanong/Peterborough, in Michi Saagig territory.
She is a mother, a performing artist with a local collaborative practice, and Assistant Professor in Gender and Social Justice Studies at Trent University. She is a recently incoming editor for Canadian Theatre Review’s Views and Reviews.
You can find out more about her work
is a multi-disciplinary artist in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is an exhibiting artist, arts educator, curator, and mural artist. Alongside her studio practice, she is the Outreach Coordinator for Lora Northway Definitely Superior Artist Run Centre, where she co-founded three art collectives; Die Active Art Collective (graffiti arts youth collective), Neechee Studio (Indigenous youth arts collective) and inVISIBLEink (LGBTQI2S youth writing group). For 12 plus years, she has delivered countless art workshops, developed and delivered conferences on “Youth Engagement and Arts Programming in the North” and more recently, gave a Tedx Talk on the importance of youth-led creative production.
She has participated in several Ontario Arts Council Juries and received numerous grants and awards for her community work, including Artist-Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario’s ‘Emerging Cultural Leader Award’, Outstanding Cultural Educator, Best Cultural Organization and Outstanding Community Project Awards from the City of Thunder Bay. Additionally, she helped develop the Ontario Culture Strategy, as key artist speaker and chosen artist for the cover of the final Ontario Culture Strategy document.
More about her work can be viewed
is an Anishinaabe/Cree artist from Aroland First Nation but has lived in Thunder Bay for most of her life. She is an environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples. Shelby is a graduate of Lakehead University in the Fine Arts program where she explored the reclamation of identity and traditions of being an Indigenous woman in Canada. Through involvement with community-engaged organizations and projects, she uses multi-disciplinary mediums to express and share her holistic feelings. Shelby Gagnon
Currently, Shelby is working with the
Indigenous Food Circle on a project called ‘Understanding our Food Systems’ to support and build food sovereignty projects in 14 Northern Indigenous communities. By working with youth, activists, and other artists, she is dedicated to expanding her knowledge and contemporary take on traditional methods of art and healing practices for her and the community.
Shelby is an Alternate Indigenous Advisory Circle member, working with Lora Northway.
, Anishinaabekwe of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, joined as the General Manager of Lynda Trudeau Debajehmujig Theatre Group as of 2018. Lynda has experience in Finance, Human Resources, Education and Training, Community Development, Nation Building, and much more; she also believes in good governance practices. In addition to work experience, Lynda also possesses various committee experiences and has served For-Profit/Not-for-Profit Corporations through a Board of Directors capacity.
Lynda has earned a Business Administration Diploma from Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology, a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northwood University, Indigenous Women in Leadership from St. Francis Xavier University (Coady Institute), and is currently pursuing her Master of Environment and Business through the University of Waterloo.
Lynda is a Debajehmujig Alumni as the box office coordinator for “Ever! That Nanabush!” She is also a former Debajehmujig Board Member.
started at Jason Manitowabi Debajehmujig Theatre Group in 2012 as a student and has worked his way up to Music and Audio Department lead. Working closely with locals to carry out projects, he assisted in special engineering for Crystal Shawanda’s The Whole World’s Got the Blues album, which garnered a Juno nomination. Debajehmujig Recording Studios is credited in the CD sleeve.
With a love for music and dedication to programming, Mr. Manitowabi is also a recording engineer for a newly-constructed recording studio, providing direction for studio and recording applications for all other employees within Debajehmujig. He also creates, designs, and records sound for film projects using various applications including foley and over dub-mixing using Pro Tools, and he acts as technician for sound in theatre productions including sound set up, microphone applications, sound person, sound design and audio playback. Jason plans and implements arts programming for proposed workshops, training initiatives, and work projects, as well as locates and applies for funding through various government granting agencies for proposed arts projects. He also acts as acoustical design engineer and resource personnel for upcoming developments with respect to performing arts venue(s) such as the first annual Wiikwmemkoong Arts and Music Festival.
Jason is an Alternate Indigenous Advisory Circle member, working with Lynda Trudeau.
is a Toronto-based actor & singer with a strong background in dance and physical theatre. Originally from Arizona, Rose is Tarahumara First Nation and Sicilian. Most recently, she was seen as Millie and Abenisha in Rose C. Stella The Election at Theatre Passe Muraille. In May 2019, Rose performed the role of Granny in CIT’s Workshop production of Herbie Barnes’ Father Penible: A Canadian Adventure of Tartuffian Proportions at Aki Studio Theatre. Some of her favourite roles include Annie Mae in Annie Mae’s Movement, Annie Cook & Veronique St. Pierre from The Rez Sisters, Edith in Beautiful Losers, April in Company, and Luna in Seduced. Rose is also a jazz vocalist and a hand drum singer with the Hidden River Singers.
White Buffalo Calf Woman – A Clown Show, was workshopped at the 2003 Weesageechak Festival and subsequently invited to Harbourfront’s WORLD’S FARE FESTIVAL. In May 2013, a new draft of White Buffalo Calf Woman – A CLOWN & DANCE SHOW was presented by CIT students for their Year-End Show. The new draft animated prophetic dreams by healer Wendy Hill, and featured new dances by Troy Emery Twigg, original hip hop songs by Donovan Tailfeathers and original sound and music by Marsha Coffee. In addition, Rose directed Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters for CIT’s Year-End Production, and in 2009, she directed CIT students in Daniel David Moses’ Coyote City.
Rose has been the Artistic Director and Principal for the
Centre for Indigenous Theatre since 2003.
Michele Williams is an Alternate Indigenous Advisory Circle member, working with Rose C. Stella.
, a member of the Sto:lo Nation within the Coast Salish Territory, is an arts leader and inter-disciplinary artist who lives and works in and out of Nipissing First Nation. An award-winning artist, Sid has performed both internationally and throughout Canada for close to three decades. Combining his cultural knowledge and experience as an arts leader, Sid has been committed to bringing indigenous stories and culture to the forefront. Sid Bobb
Sid’s artistic practice moves through and between the spiritual, familial, communal, and professional. His training includes indigenous arts and western theatre, and comedic improvisation. Sid has studied at the Native Theatre School, University of Toronto’s drama program, and the Banff Centre for the Fine Art’s Aboriginal Dance Program.
Along with his wife Penny Couchie, Sid is Co-Artistic Director and co-founder of
Aanmitaagzi, which has emerged as a leading indigenous arts organization and centre for multi-arts, site-specific works and international collaborations. With community, Sid has been art-making, telling stories and dancing on stage, trains, sidewalks, and on the ice. Most recently, Sid was a dancer creator within Aanmitaagzi’s Makomiwi, a dance theatre work presented on the ice of Lake Nipissing during Ice Follies 2020. Since 2010, Penny and Sid are also co-owners and operators of Big Medicine Studio, an arts dedicated space on the shores of Lake Nipissing.
Penny Couchie, Anishinaabe, is an award-winning arts leader, dancer, actor, choreographer, and community-engaged artist of Anishinaabe ancestry from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. Penny is co-founder and co-artistic director of Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous multi-arts company based in her home community. Penny holds an Honors BA from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. In 2016, Penny received the KM Hunter award in Dance.
Over the past twenty years, Penny has guest taught at schools throughout Canada and the US, including the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Her most recent choreography includes Spiderwoman Theatre’s
Misdemeanor Dream (Abron’s Arts Centre New York, NY), Aanmitaagzi’s latest production Mkomiiwi (Ice Follies 2020, North Bay, Ontario), Serpent People, Aanmitaagzi’s multi-year community-engaged dance theatre project, and Material Witness, a co-production by Aanmitaagzi and Spiderwoman Theater (LaMama, New York, NY).
If you have any questions about the project, please contact Amy Poole, Program Manager at
ArtsBuild Ontario thanks to the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for supporting this project.
This project is complementary to additional work on Indigenous creators and creative spaces that the Department of Canadian Heritage is a part of.