Native Women in the Arts is pleased to announce the winner of the fifth annual Barbara Laronde Award: Joe Wood.

2019 Barbara Laronde Award Winner, Joe Wood

Joe Wood was born in Nelson House MB, is a member of South Indian Lake First Nation, and identifies as Cree and Scottish. Joe is a self-taught visual and media artist who was raised as disabled. Her artistic practice has been a way to release anger, probe the unknown, and to express herself as a two-spirit person. Whether painting, drawing with charcoal or working with digital tools, Joe fearlessly pushes boundaries through her thoughtfully composed, minimalist aesthetic. Joe is based in North Bay, Ontario and has been a core member of Art Fix of Nipissing – a collective of artists with lived experience of mental health and substance use – contributing to project development, the design of an annual zine, and juried exhibition.

“Joe Wood’s recent work provides a glimpse into her experiences as a Two-Spirit Cree woman raised in Canada’s child welfare and mental health systems. The work is fierce yet vulnerable but most importantly, it is generous because it fearlessly speaks to truths Canada needs to hear. Her multimedia installations are created with a minimalist aesthetic which delivers a subtle yet meaningful impact – one which echoes Wood’s persona. I am grateful to this year’s Barbara Laronde jury members for providing Joe with a well-deserved opportunity to advance her career as she moves forward in her artistic endeavours.” – Chair of the Board, Aylan Couchie.

Wood was selected from a number of applications from across Northern Ontario. NWIA’s Artistic Director, Ariel Smith remarked:

“ On behalf of the Board and staff of NWIA, we are thrilled to present this award to Joe Wood, in recognition of her talent, her resilience, and her commitment to her craft and community. We have no doubt she will continue to grow and evolve as a practising artist and wish her all the best in her future endeavours. NWIA is excited to support the continuing creative and professional achievements of Joe Wood with a $2500 cash prize.”

The 5th annual Barbara Laronde Award will be presented to Joe Wood on Friday, January 17 at 6 PM as part of NWIA’s Inaabandam Symposium.

The Inaabandam Symposium runs January 17 – 19, 2020, at the Toronto Media Art Centre (TMAC) located at 32 Lisgar Street in Toronto. The symposium will open with the award presentation followed by a performance from Melody McKiver, a catered reception and bar, and beats from DJ Jams.

In recognition of 2019/2020 being the 5th year of the Barbara Laronde Award, NWIA is also presenting a visual arts exhibition comprised of works by the 2015-2019 Barbara Laronde Award winners: Aylan Couchie, Janelle Wawia, Lucille Atlookan, Caitlyn Bird, and Joe Wood.

All events on Friday, January 17 are FREE and open to the community even if you will not be attending the symposium for its duration.

The Barbara Laronde Award Exhibition will be running from Friday, January 17, 2020 – Friday, January 31, 2020, daily from 11 AM – 6 PM at TMAC located at 32 Lisgar Street, Toronto, ON.

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About the Barbara Laronde Award

The Barbara Laronde Award was created to honour the legacy of NWIA founder Sandra Laronde and her vision and commitment to Indigenous artists. It celebrates and acknowledges the career of one outstanding, emerging, Northern-Ontario based Indigenous Gender Marginalized artist, recognizing the geographic and economic barriers that many Northern artists face.

Sandra Laronde’s 19 years of leadership at NWIA paved the way for many Indigenous artists at various stages of their careers. The award is named after her mother, Barbara, who has been the backbone of her family and a leader in the Northern Ontario community, Temagami First Nation. Barbara inspired her children to be creative and entrepreneurial, and it is with this spirit that NWIA launched this award.

About the Inaabandum Symposium

The Inaabandam symposium will foreground issues of concern and interest to Indigenous Women and other Indigenous Gender Marginalized artists from multiple disciplines including film, performing arts, visual art, and customary practices.

Inaabandam will feature open teachings with elders, panel discussions, exhibition, and reception. The symposium will take place on January 17, 18 and 19, 2020, at the Toronto Media Art Centre. Registration for the symposium is now open.

For more information on Inaabandam and to register for the symposium please visit:

About Native Women in the Arts (NWIA)

Over 25 years, NWIA has delivered theatre, dance, music, and spoken word productions and published three books of Indigenous visual art and writing. We also produce a series of community-driven artist talks, leadership and cultural workshops, youth arts projects to audiences interested in arts, culture, and the advancement of Indigenous peoples.

*Gallery Photos by Liz Lott*

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