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This past March, artists, food makers, government bodies and creative organizations from Northern Manitoba and across Canada gathered in The Pas for four days to take part in the Northern Arts and Food Workshop conference. This event allowed participants and presenters to share ideas about how to build a cohesive and inclusive creative arts and culture economy in the North through interactive workshops, insightful discussions, and inspiring speakers.

The arts possess a unique ability to transcend boundaries and connect us on a deeper, more profound level, serving as a universal language that has the power to ignite change, raise awareness, and inspire collective action. It was an opportunity to amplify our Northern voices, share our relationship with the land, and emphasize how community fills your spirit, your plate, and strengthens your creative vision.

Stay tuned for more information on the 2025 conference!

Thank you to Cheryl Antonio for capturing the video seen here!

The second annual Northern Arts Workshop, which will build off the momentum of the first event in 2023. It was facilitated by Inga Petri, who has hands-on experience in growing and developing an inclusive creative economy in a northern climate. The workshop allowed a fluid exchange of information between the presenters and the attendees and allowed the participants to learn what opportunities exist. To wrap things up, the participants worked together through a facilitated strategic action plan that focused on various issues in the creative world to make a local/regional plan to resolve them.

The Northern Arts & Food Workshop brings together artists, makers, government bodies and creative organizations from Northern Manitoba to boost the region’s Arts, Culture, and Food sectors. It’s a conference for artists and food makers of all types, organizations involved in the creative economy, and government bodies with funding for arts, culture, food, and heritage projects. The workshops serve as a collaborative space, working collectively to build a cohesive and inclusive creative economy in the North.

  • Experience a unique opportunity to network, learn, and engage with other artists from all mediums.
  • Attend skill-building sessions and professional development opportunities hosted by Creative Manitoba and Food & Beverage Manitoba. 
  • Learn from keynote speakers who have first-hand experience with grassroots creative change within their environments, which are similar to Northern Manitoba.
  • Immerse yourself in a dynamic program featuring interactive workshops, insightful discussions, and inspiring speakers. This series will introduce you to the many avenues of careers in the arts, culture, and food communities.
  • Come to one event or the entire conference and you will find a vibrant community of artists, curators, and industry experts.

March 24 – 27, 2024Northern Arts & Food Workshop’s Agenda

Professional Development Training for Artists, Art and Food Makers from Northern Communities.

Food from the HeArt focuses on the integration of Indigenous food into art and education. With Anishinaabe, Ininiwok, and Red River Métis heritage, founder Ruby Bruce explores traditional and contemporary Indigenous foodways and their role in creative and educational settings. This session illuminates the connection between food, culture, and art, offering insights into incorporating Indigenous food practices into educational curricula and artistic expression. Attendees will learn about the significance of Indigenous foods, how they foster connections to heritage and identity, and ways to include these practices in classrooms and community projects.

Ideal for educators, artists, makers, and the community, this session inspires new approaches to teaching, learning, and creating that celebrate and honour Indigenous food and art. Join us to see how Indigenous foodways can enrich heArtwork, for a sustainable and interconnected future.

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm Break 

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm Breakout Sessions 2 options 

Option 1: The Value of Your Gifts with Artist and Activist  Jackie Traverse

As an artist, you have spent thousands of hours honing your craft. Skills that have often been passed down through generations. Your work is your gift, filled with teachings and knowledge from yourself and your community. What we often struggle with is the part that comes after our creation work is done – pricing. Pricing is awkward. Setting a price on something that is so deeply personal and doesn’t have a set market value is even more awkward. But knowing your value and the value of what you create can be the most important part.

This workshop will focus on discovering your value as an artist and the work you create. We will have conversations about pricing, how to work with retailers, direct sales, consignment, and how your work and its value tell your story and represent you and your community. 

Option 2: Ohpikiwin: The Journey to Financial Empowerment, Noah Wilson, Futurpreneur

This workshop will review practical skills as well as success stories from other Indigenous entrepreneurs. Ohpikiwin is a distinctive program focusing on financial empowerment for Indigenous individuals on the path to building their dream businesses while nurturing their financial knowledge. Upon completion, participants will know how to effectively manage credit, strengthen their financial position and see entrepreneurship as a path to financial empowerment.

3:15 pm – 3:30 pm Break

3:30 pm – 4:45 pmBreakout Sessions – Two options

Option 1: Walk with Us with Melanie Gamache and Lyn Brown

Experience-based, Indigenous and northern tourism is an opportunity to invite people to walk with us and share the rich language, spiritual connection to land, and cultural offerings of Indigenous and northern peoples in Manitoba. There’s never been a better time to share our cultural knowledge and introduce people to our ways than now.

This is an opportunity to amplify our voices through greater representation as we share our relationship with the land and our communities. Whether we are delivering authentic Indigenous and northern experiences to educate travellers or passing knowledge on to members of the community who have become disconnected from their culture, this is a way for us all to learn to walk together.

As people realize there are opportunities to support and engage with Indigenous and Northern businesses, it is very important to point out that it should always be the community that develops the experience(s) and determines what the community wants to share and show. Development should start with a meeting to find the story and define the experience(s), and the infrastructure available for tourism. From there we determine opportunity, timing and budget.

This workshop will tell the stories of Melanie Gamache, Borealis Beading, and Lyn Brown, from the Pickled Loon, who have used food and art to create experiential tourism.

Option 2: Ohpikiwin: The Journey to Financial Empowerment, Noah Wilson, Futurpreneur

This workshop will review practical skills as well as success stories from other Indigenous entrepreneurs. Ohpikiwin is a distinctive program focusing on financial empowerment for Indigenous individuals on the path to building their dream businesses while nurturing their financial knowledge. Upon completion, participants will know how to effectively manage credit, strengthen their financial position and see entrepreneurship as a path to financial empowerment.

5:00 – 7:00 PM – Dinner (on your own)

7:00 – 9:00 PM – Film Festival at Mamawechetotan Centre, UCN
Featured Films
We Are The Artists Of The North – by Andria Stephens, Mall of the Arts
The Urban Access to Traditional Foods: Understanding Wild Game – by the Indigenous Food Circle
Augmented Flow – by Les Dysart
Sharing Food Stories: Ruby Bruce – by Nüton and Teach Nutrition
Refreshments will be served!

8:00 am – 9:30 amRegistration and Breakfast

9:30 am – 11:15 amBreakout Sessions: Two options to choose from

Option 1: Stronger Together – The Kitchen Table,  Fireweed Food Co-op and Churchill Creative Collective

Artists and food makers need community. You need to be able to connect with other people to share ideas, resources, knowledge, techniques and support each other. A strong community of artists and food makers can also help you stay motivated and help you continue creating art and food. Community fills your spirit, and your plate, and strengthens your vision. Much like sitting around a kitchen table, we gather to nourish ourselves and each other. We are always stronger together. How are social enterprises and co-operatives like a kitchen table? How can they bring artists and food makers together and what can they do for you? 

Option 2: Show me the money!  Indigenous Youth Roots

Want to learn how to plan a project and write a grant? Join Indigenous Youth Roots for our Grant Writing 101 workshop! This grant writing workshop will focus on tips and tricks for strengthening grant applications. We will provide an overview of how grants work at Indigenous Youth Roots. Our organization tries to decolonize the granting process for Indigenous youth on and off reserve, in cities or remote communities. We also offer mentorship and one-on-one guidance to support you on your project’s journey. This workshop could also be valuable for funders interested in reshaping their own granting processes. As a note, Indigenous Youth Roots currently only provides funding to “Grassroot youth groups/collectives (comprised of Indigenous youth ages 15-29)”.

11:15 am – 12:15 pmLunchFood Provided

12:30 pm – 2:15 pmSharing Circle 

2:15 pm – 3 pmBreak

3:00 – 3:15 pmMain Conference Begins.

Conference Welcoming and Opening Prayer

3:15 – 4:55 pmIntroductions and Dignitary Welcoming

4:55 – 5:10 pmExhibit Opening

5:10 – 5:35 pm Government Welcome

5:35 – 6:30 pm50 Mile DinnerCulinary Experience with UCN Culinary Arts

6:30 – 8:00 pmKeynote Address: Antoinette GreenOliph  (Whitehorse, Yukon)

Keynote: “Nourishing Community: A Life in Food, Art and Community Building”

The arts- in all their forms- possess a unique ability to transcend boundaries and connect us on a deeper, more profound level. They serve as a universal language that has the power to ignite change, raise awareness, and inspire collective action. With this in mind, Antoinette will share examples from her own life and experience, that we can draw inspiration from in terms of changing things for the better right here in communities across Northern Manitoba.

8:00 pm – Networking

8:00 – 9:00 AMRegistration and Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15 AM – Elder Opening Prayer, Introduction of Keynote

9:15 – 10:15 amKeynote Speaker: Theresie Tungilik, National President and Spokesperson of CARFAC

Theresie Tungilik will share her lived experience as an Inuit artist, and oral history the Inuit lived by as nomadic people. She will introduce us to the document Indigenous Protocols for Visuals Artists and the artistic community and share information on Indigenous Intellectual Property. Both are essential resources for navigating relationships and are designed to help Indigenous artists protect their work, to educate non-Indigenous individuals and organizations about respectful engagement and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, and to provide tools that can be used to advocate for stronger legislative change. This uplifting talk is part of the ongoing initiative to strengthen respect for First Nations, Inuit and Métis visual art and artists, and the legal and moral rights in the lands commonly known as Canada.

10:15 – 10:45 am  Break: Northern Juried Art Exhibition Visit

10:45 – 12:00 pm  – Panel: Reverse Funders Pitch: A panel on government support for arts, culture and food.

This session turns the tables as we bring together influential funders and government organizations including Canadian Heritage, Canada Council, Manitoba Arts Council, PrairiesCan, Community Economic Development Fund, Travel Manitoba, Farm Credit Canada, Futurpreneur. Discover the mechanisms behind arts and cultural funding, gain insights into support systems, and uncover opportunities for collaboration. With ample time for attendees’ Q&A, this panel promises a direct and dynamic exchange between the audience and key players. Moderated by Thom Sparling Creative Manitoba

12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch and Networking 

1:00 – 2:15 pm Fireside Chat :

Follow the Money: A Fireside Chat about Community-based Financing in the Arts

With Jim Blake (Ontario) and Inga Petri (Yukon)

Join us for an illuminating fireside chat with Jim Blake, a master storyteller, as he unravels the captivating narrative of arts, culture, and economic development in the picturesque village of Haliburton, Ontario. Tucked away in the quintessential cottage country just north of Toronto, Haliburton has become a beacon of inspiration and innovation.

In this intimate “Fireside chat,” Jim Blake will draw upon his storyteller’s prowess to share the invaluable lessons learned over 25+ years of fostering arts and culture in Haliburton. Explore the transformative journey of the Haliburton County Community Co-operative and its pivotal role in supporting the local creative community, nurturing SPARC, the rural Ontario network “Supporting Performing Arts in Rural Ontario”, while driving economic development in rural Ontario.

Gain insights into the Co-operative’s commitment to capacity building and its profound economic influence on artists, arts organizations, and the broader community. This interview will include a Q and A from the audience.

2:15 – 2:45 pm Break: Mural Walk

2:45 – 4:15 pm Panel Standing in the Present: 

A panel of Northern Manitoba organizations share highlights of progress, barriers and opportunities. Moderated by Thom Sparling, Creative Manitoba

Embark on an enlightening journey with this dynamic conference panel, comprised of representatives from diverse sectors including arts, food, culture, and business actively shaping the landscape of Northern Manitoba. Get ready for concise updates as our panel addresses three pivotal questions:

  • Progress Update: Gain valuable insights into the significant strides made by these organizations in the past year.
  • Overcoming Barriers: Uncover the challenges faced by our panelists and learn how they navigated obstacles that held them back.
  • Future Vision: Explore the big questions our panelists hope to answer in the upcoming year and the major opportunities they aspire to pursue over the next three years.

Featuring representatives from The Pas, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Flin Flon, Thompson, Churchill, Snow Lake, the Manitoba Hotel Association, and Manitoba Arts Network, this panel promises to be a rich source of inspiration and knowledge. Join us as we delve into the transformative narratives of Northern Manitoba’s movers and shakers.

Presentations will be followed by a short Q and A.

4:15 – 5:00 pmBreakout Sessions (two options to choose from)

Option 1: Guided Reflection  – Time for participants with a focus on bringing a region together (across sectors) to advance economic impact on artists, makers, organizations and communities, and work through how to apply the insights and experience from elsewhere in Northern Manitoba

Option 2: Ask an Expert Clinic – Participants come with an issue or concern that they want feedback on from specific experts.

5:15 – 5:45 pmBreak: Northern Juried Art Exhibition Visit 

5:45 – 7:30 PM- Dinner and Networking Reception Catering provided by Chef Travis Antonio, Lunch Shack

7:30 9:00 pm Performance Showcase (Cash bar)

With performances by:

Naneway Iskew (Jingle Dance Group)

Greg Personius

Kennie Henderson

Caitlin Armstrong

Jared & Meadow Hynes

Class A

8:00 – 9:00 am Breakfast 

9:00 – 9:15 amElder Opening Prayer and Drummer

9:15 – 10:30 am Keynote Speaker: Christine Genier (Yukon/Ta’an Kwäch’än Council)

Strength in the Arts: A Yukon First Nations Perspective by Christine Genier

In 1973, a delegation of Yukon First Nations leaders went to Ottawa to deliver an indelible message to the Prime Minister of Canada in a historic document,  Together Today for our Children Tomorrow.  With it they convinced the federal government to begin a negotiation process for a modern-day treaty, the first in Canada. Yukon First Nations’ organizing was going to lead to profound and lasting change in the relationships between governments and between peoples.

Beginning in the 1990s, Yukon First Nations began finalizing their self-government agreements. As Implementation of these modern-day treaties began, so did the career and efforts of one aspiring Yukon First Nations performer.

Christine Genier tells the story of Indigenous arts and performance through a Yukon First Nations lens, as she ties together the importance of supporting Arts and Culture in the urgent conversation of Language and Cultural revitalization. She’ll draw the arc from self-governance to re-focussing Yukon First Nations arts, tourism and economic development organizations, to her own forays into the performing arts and early training initiatives through to the explosion of interest in All Things Indigenous in 2020.

10:30 – 10:45 am Break 

10:45 – 12:15 pm Facilitated Strategic Action Planning Let’s Make A Plan Part 1

The Northern Arts Workshop culminates in a planning session to arrive at a common arts and cultural strategy for Northern Manitoba. With the full participation of artists and cultural entrepreneurs, arts administrators, community organizers, businesses, government partners and funders, and conference speakers, Inga will facilitate an innovative process where participants can reflect on their own, then share in small groups, and through deep conversations develop an action plan for the region as a whole. Facilitated by Inga Petri, Strategic Moves (Yukon)

12:15 – 1:00 pmWorking Lunch 

1:00 – 2:00 pm Facilitated Strategic Action PlanningLet’s Make A Plan Part 2

Participants will focus on areas of interest to them and work with people with similar priorities in small groups. By the end of this planning session, we will bring all of the plans together and devise a common strategy with clear actions and accountability to each other.

The resulting Northern Manitoba Arts Strategy will be shared with all conference attendees and the wider community after the conference. Facilitated by Inga Petri, Strategic Moves (Yukon).

2:00 – 2:10 pm Closing Remarks 

2:20 pmBus Leaves for the Arts & Culture Tour – Round The Bend Farm 

4:00 pmShuttle bus leaves for The Pas Airport to catch the 6 pm flight to Winnipeg.

Jim Blake Jim resides in Haliburton, Ontario, a small rural community, where he works as a facilitator, consultant, project manager and educator. He is the Community Economic Development Consultant for the Haliburton County Development Corporation and Curator of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and taught for 20 years as a part-time faculty member of the Haliburton School of Art and Design. He was involved in the development of cultural plans for the four lower-tier municipalities in Haliburton County, the creation of the Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands and the Reseau SPARC Network. 

 As a community volunteer, Jim is the president and co-founder of the Haliburton County Community-Co-operative, (which oversees 20 different community initiatives), co-chair and co-founder of the U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research, board member of the Trent Community Research Centre, chair of Dance Happens Here Haliburton, and chair of the Glebe Park and Museum committee.

Jim is also a professional storyteller who, over the past thirty years, has performed at festivals and events across Canada. He studied fine art at the University of Guelph, York University and the New School of Art and exhibited his work as a visual artist from 1976 to 1984. Jim also holds degrees in Psychology and Education from York University.

Lyn Brown Lyn Brown, Owner/Operator of Pickled Loon Kitchen (PLK) is a new experiential tourism operator and culinary artist whose business offers experiential tourism adventures in and around Flin Flon, MB. She offers immersive adventures, culinary education, catering and foraged food products using plants, roots and trees harvested locally from the boreal forest.

As a child growing up on the edge of the northern forest in Saskatchewan and now as an adult living amongst the forest on the edge of the Precambrian shield, I have climbed the trees and rocks, swam in the lakes, breathed in the fresh unpolluted air, admired the forest for its visual beauty and respected its capacity to be home to all that lives under and in its grand forest ecosystem of firs, pines, spruce, poplar and birch trees.

As a Boreal Forest Culinary Artist my focus is to share not only a memorable foodie experience but also to share my love and understanding of the forest.

Ruby Bruce Since the age of 10, Ruby Bruce has been transforming lives through art – and teaching others to do the same, facilitating youth art workshops and creating her first solo mural project by the age of 17. A strong advocate for young Indigenous artists, she is already a Knowledge Keeper. Fiercely proud of her Métis culture, Ruby has and continues to create art for various organizations, projects, zines and businesses including The Mamawi Project, an initiative which establishes spaces for Métis people to celebrate their identity. She was involved in the creation of the St. Laurent Art Space Committee and has designed murals, logos, and numerous other pieces of award-winning work for public spaces. Ruby has not only mentored youth, she is also passionate about continuing her educational journey, learning Michif and Kanien’kéha, and is pursuing B.A. and B.Ed. degrees. She is a powerful role model for her community and her family.

Melanie Gamache. Originally from Laurier, Manitoba, Melanie lives on an acreage in Ste Genevieve, Manitoba. She is a Manitoba Francophone Métis Artist/Artisan who takes pride in continuing to learn about her culture and heritage. Her beading journey started during the 2014-2015 winter as a form of meditative therapy and has helped her dig deeper into her Métis culture and heritage, discovering her connection and responsibility
with beading and the environment. As a harvester she is a firm believer that it is our responsibility to use as much of an animal as possible and give thanks for all that is taken from Mother Earth, leaving enough for regeneration.

Her beadwork is created using the 2-needle beading technique, one of the traditional methods used by our ancestors. Each piece she creates is inspired based on research from historical pieces seen in private collections, museum archives, many cultural presentations, numerous books and experienced beadwork artists and historians. Although she recharges her creative side with historic beadwork pieces, she strives to show that traditional techniques can be used for more contemporary pieces in the modern world. Each piece she creates is an expression of gratitude to our ancestors, “The Flower Beadwork People”.

Over the past few years, she has facilitated several experiences through art councils, schools, and museums in rural Manitoba. She delivers interactive sessions where participants gain an appreciation for the art of beading while weaving stories of Métis culture and history into each cultural learning experience. She delivers experiences in a style reflective of traditional beading circles, where friends and family would meet to share stories and talk about their day while passing on the traditional art of beadwork.

Born and raised on her ancestral lands, Christine Genier is a Wolf Clan citizen of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (Yukon). She is a broadcaster, journalist, writer, poet, performer, and language & culture worker. She shares a lived experience that spans over four decades of bridging culture and recovering the Indigenous Space with those prepared to engage.

Christine kicked off the 2000’s training at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. She eventually fell in love with a live microphone leading to a career as an on-air host, first at CHON-FM, the radio branch of Northern Native Broadcast Yukon, and CBC Yukon. In her career and public life, she has witnessed the birth of the conversation around “Decolonization” and promises of “Reconciliation.” In June of 2020, Christine made national headlines when she quit her job as host of CBC Yukon Morning, live and on the air with a four-minute statement which included an introduction in her traditional language. This was in response to unrecognized anti-Indigenous biases in mainstream media. In December 2020, Christine was featured in Chatelaine Magazine as one of “Chatelaine’s 20 Women of the Year.” (Pacinthe Mattar)

Since 2020, Christine has devoted her time to language recovery, traditional culture work and exploring the Indigenous space in popular culture with honesty and humor. She has returned to live theatre with the production of Dreaming Roots in Whitehorse, Yukon, a showcase of Yukon First Nation culture and talent, and has works in progress in with both Yukon Digital Theatre and Nakai Theatre in Whitehorse. Christine is a regular guest host with the popular podcast Auntie Up! (Makwa Creative, 2023) and a regional host of the new Words and Culture podcast.

Antoinette GreenOliph was born on the island of Tobago and as far back as she can remember she read recipe books for fun and recreation. Food was definitely her first love. 

Antoinette has been a restaurateur since 2002 when she moved from Toronto to St Pierre Jolys, Manitoba.  She opened her first restaurant, La Table de bonnes soeurs. It was recognized in both 2004 and 2005 in Ann Hardy’s Where to Eat in Canada.

From there she moved first to Dawson City and then to Whitehorse, Yukon, where she started Antoinette’s which served international cuisine with uniquely Caribbean-infused flavours. Antoinette has been featured twice on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here; and Antoinette’s was once again named the best restaurant in Whitehorse by Ann Hardy’s Where to Eat in Canada in 2018. 

Antoinette has been recognized as a business leader: In 2016 for Best Customer Service by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, in 2019 as the Northern Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by StartUp Canada and in 2020 with the Bravo Award from the Yukon Convention Bureau.

But food is not her only love. 

Her life in the arts has included touring small town Ontario as a back-up singer in the 1970s, acting in plays, and being featured on CBC’s Doc Project (2017). 

In recent years, Antoinette developed an autobiographical storytelling series that she presented at her restaurant in Whitehorse, called Anto’s Real Stories. On the 50th anniversary of immigrating to Canada, this series culminated in a 50-course celebration of realness, strength and what she calls sticktoitness. 

This passion project led to a performance at the 2020 Pivot Theatre Festival, Stories from the Mango Stump. Then she got a role in the award-winning, post-apocalyptic feature film, Polaris (2022) as a snowmobile-driving, body-disposing, hard-core Morad, now streaming on Crave.  In 2023, she was the lead in David Lindsay-Abaire ‘s play Ripcord, for a 3-week run in Whitehorse. 

Finally, Antoinette is a thoughtful speaker and workshop leader at anti-racism and social justice conferences and workshops; she has been a teller of stories who captivates and inspires her audiences through lived experiences and provocative dialogue.

Patricia Eve Martin is a Grant Coordinator with Indigenous Youth Roots. She is a queer Anishinaabe artist born and raised in Toronto, and a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation. She is named after her maternal grandparents, Patrick and Eve. As a descendant of residential school survivors, reclamation and healing are everything. Her spirit name is the place where the land meets the water, or “swampy girl”, and she belongs to the turtle clan.

Supporting the Creation Community Grants Program with IYR has strengthened her passion for Indigenous youth advocacy, leadership and skills development.

Inga Petri, Strategic Moves. Inga has undertaken research, strategy and marketing assignments from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, from Ottawa to the Yukon, from Manitoba to Nunavut. She has been working with the Manitoba arts sector since 2011, most recently spearheading a baseline study of artists and arts organizations in Northern Manitoba and helping develop and advance the Northern Manitoba Arts Action Plan. Inga’s marketing career includes 6 years in book retail and publishing including a 3-year stint in Charlottetown, PEI; and 10 years at leading ad agencies in Ottawa. With the founding of Strategic Moves in 2007, Inga has built a unique national consulting practice at the crossroads of research, strategy and marketing planning with a focus on arts, culture, and technology.

Inga has been putting digital conversations in the performing arts sector on the agenda since 2011, when she led the seminal Value of Presenting: A Study of Performing Arts Presentation in Canada (© 2013, CAPACOA). She has a reputation for providing strategic insight, championing contemporary marketing practices, delivering on organizational change mandates along with delivering practical training.  She co-wrote Digitizing the Performing Arts: An Assessment of Issues, Opportunities and Challenges (© 2017, CAPACOA). She has been leading numerous national, provincial and local digital strategy assignments in the arts, and helped arts organizations forge closer connections with their audiences in the digital and physical realms. Inga lives in Whitehorse, Yukon and works in communities across Canada.

Thom Sparling Active in the Canadian independent music scene for over two decades, Thom Sparling was a founder of the West End Cultural Centre. He produced 60 music recordings, thousands of live performances, a dozen music videos and a music magazine while operating his own independent record label and management company. Including managing The Crash Test Dummies.  While much of his work has focused on supporting and advocating for the artistic output of others, Thom has quietly developed his own visual arts practice. Working mainly “en plein air” Sparling’s paintings are a naive, but authentic and raw personification of the Canadian Shield.  Drawing on his years of music and arts experience – Sparling has led Creative Manitoba for the past decade – providing mentorship and professional development for Manitoba`s creative sector. Sparling has also been engaged in the research and development of civic and provincial cultural policy recommendations including a Creative Cluster Strategy for Winnipeg`s Exchange District.

Jackie Traverse Jacqueline “Jackie” Traverse was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is Ojibway from the Lake St. Martin First Nation. Jackie began drawing as a child and was inspired by a field trip to the Wahsa Gallery when she was 13 years old. It wasn’t until she was 32 years old that she decided to submit a portfolio of her works to the University of Manitoba where she studied Fine Arts and graduated with a diploma in May of 2009.

Jackie Traverse is a multi-disciplined Indigenous artist who works in several mediums from oil and acrylic paintings to mixed media, stop-motion animation and sculpture. Jackie draws her inspiration from her indigenous culture and her experiences as a native woman living in Winnipeg. Today, as an artist, Jackie does a lot of work in the community. Her work is very women-centred. “I can be inspired by ceremony, prayer, as well as kind and moving words. I love the culture of my people and this is where most of my inspiration comes from.”

Jackie Traverse is widely known in art communities across Canada. Her paintings, drawings, documentaries, and sculptures speak to the realities of being an Indigenous woman. She has created stop-motion animation on missing and murdered women in Canada, another on the sixties scoop titled “Two Scoops” and “Empty” a tribute to her estranged mother. Jackie is deeply moved by the injustices faced by First Nations people.

Through her art, she expresses her ideas and opinions while striving to inspire dialogue in addressing her people’s social issues. To Jackie painting is truly where her heart lies. Her happiest moments are when she is painting.

Theresie Tungilik. Theresie was born on the sea ice during March in an iglu while her parents were travelling by dog team to get to Nauyaat, from Harbour Island, Nunavut. Her artistic parents have been her driving force to help other Inuit artists within Nunavut and Inuit Nunagat. Theresie is an artist and an Inuit art collector. Theresie’s work and being on committees, boards of directors, governors and serving as a knowledge keeper have enhanced her knowledge and ability to work towards helping and improving the lives of artists.
Being a Member of the Reconciliation Council for the Canadian Museums Association gave Theresie new insights into indigenizing Indigenous artifacts and creations, and the protection of such, through museums. Being on the Board at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Qaumajuq, as well as an Inuit Traditional Knowledge Keeper on their Indigenous Advisory Council, has seen the empowerment of Indigenous People to voice and ask for changes that are necessary for the Truth of Inuit art history to be told. The Indigenous Advisory Council was integral to the establishment of Qaumajuq, and provided Indigenous input into how the INUA Museum displays its Inuit art.
Theresie has been a member of CARFAC’s board since 2017, becoming National President and Spokesperson in Winnipeg in May 2023. Within CARFAC, Theresie has been on the Indigenous Advisory Circle for the Indigenous Protocols for the Visual Arts. Her main interest has always been the Artist’s Resale Right, as well as Indigenous Intellectual Property. Theresie was also the founder of Inuit Art Society in Rankin Inlet, and under this organization had Ivalu Ltd. was established in 1992. The Inuit Art Society also held its inaugural Kivalliq Arts & Craft juried exhibition 1994.

Lex van Dyck (they/them) is a perpetual student in pursuit of new skills and crafts, dabbling in gardening, mycology, fermentation, ceramics, fibre arts, vocal performance, choral performance, and printmaking, among others. They work as the supplier coordinator at Fireweed Food Co-op, supporting local food producers and working towards an alternative food system in and around Winnipeg (Treaty 1 territory). They live in Winnipeg with their partner, their dog, and two cats.

Noah Wilson. Noah is an Indigenous finance professional and currently covers the Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut regions as the Senior Business Development Manager for the Indigenous Entrepreneur Start-up Program (IESP) at Futurpreneur Canada. The IESP team is mandated to help Indigenous Young Entrepreneurs develop a viable business plan and financial projections to gain access to capital to launch their Indigenous start-up or their Indigenous side hustle along with a mentor for 2 years. Noah is a devoted advocate for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action in Canada and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Since joining Futurpreneur, Noah has become the Co-Chair for the Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Council for The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and has made The Peak’s 2023 Emerging Leader’s List in Entrepreneurship as well as received an Indigenous Achievement Award from the Indigenous Professionals Association of Canada (IPAC).

The Government of Canada   The Manitoba Government

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