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:
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.