Announcing Our New Kwe Performance Series

Native Women in the Arts is pleased to announce the Kwe Performance Series, starting with the Inuit Showcase in November, 2016.

The Kwe Performance Series is the evolution of NWIA’s long-standing Catalyst Series. Under the new name and with new direction, the Kwe Performance Series will present performances and workshops by performing artists from diverse nations and communities. The events will always take place both in Toronto and in varying on-reserve and under-serviced communities in the arts in Ontario.

For our first season, we’re thrilled to present three parts in the series:

Inuit Showcase: Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt, Taqralik Partridge, and Nukariik, November 2016
Sadie Buck, January 2017
The Ulali Project, March 2017


In collaboration with the Music Gallery
Saturday November 5, 8pm
197 John Street, Toronto
Buy tickets here.
Join the Facebook event.

Also at the Music Gallery:
Thursday November 3, 6:30pm
Throat singing workshop with Nukariik. Free!
Register here.

Tuesday November 1
Taqralik Partridge – workshop and performance at Kinomaagaye Gaamik Lodge, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Ontario

Additional Toronto workshops with Kathleen and Taqralik to be announced. Stay tuned!


In partnership with the Feminist Art Conference (FAC), we will present renowned traditional and contemporary Haudenosaunee singer Sadie Buck for both a Q&A and performance.

Saturday, January 21, 6:30pm
PWYC (or included in FAC conference registration)
Auditorium at OCAD University, Toronto

ulali-project-idle-no-moreTHE ULALI PROJECT

The current evolution of the legendary acapella group Ulali, with founding members Pura Fé and Jennifer Kreisberg, and new additions Charly Lowry and Layla Locklear.

Friday March 31, 8pm
In partnership with St. Anne’s Anglican Church
270 Gladstone Ave, Toronto

Toronto workshops and community workshops and performances to be added and announced in the new year.


The warmth and joy of the Miiyuu Pimaatswiin symposium

This past June, we presented Miiyuu Pimaatswin: A Symposium for Indigenous Women Arts LeadersThe sold out event brought emerging to established Indigenous women artists, producers, programmers, artistic leaders, arts administrators, arts advocates, and arts practitioners together to share knowledge and experiences.

We are grateful to each of the participants, presenters, sponsors, partners, and funders who made the symposium a success.

Nourishing. The symposium was a beautiful recipe that included a magical synchronicity of wonderful spirits, talents and gifts mixed in with lots of love and laughs, tears and hugs, and tasty surprises!

Alex Hildebrand captured a few beautiful moments from the three days.

I feel grateful for the opportunity to listen to the strong female leaders/elders who shared their wisdom, courage, honesty, truth and love

Check out Facebook for even more photos!

Seeking new board members at NWIA!

Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is seeking dynamic supportive individuals invested in advancing Indigenous arts for our existing inclusive and strong Board of Directors.


Established in 1993, NWIA is a not-for-profit organization for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women from diverse artistic disciplines who share a common interest in culture, art, community and the advancement of Indigenous peoples. NWIA produces unique artistic programming while developing, supporting, and cultivating Aboriginal women in the performing arts, literary arts and publishing, visual arts, and community development projects. NWIA’s influence has been felt in Indigenous, culturally diverse and mainstream communities across Canada for 23 years.


We are seeking individuals who are available to meet a minimum of four times per year in downtown Toronto, to volunteer at concerts and events, serve on a minimum of one sub-committee, and check-in with board and staff on a regular basis. We are in need of people who will advance areas such as fundraising and sponsorship, financial management, policy development, marketing and programming.

We are looking to add two new members to our Board of Directors and welcome people of all backgrounds, though we aim to include a majority of Indigenous women. We welcome Indigenous women, youth, two-spirit, and allied individuals, from emerging to established in their field.

Participation on the Board is voluntary and there is no remuneration for service.

Please submit your letter of interest and CV to by 5pm September 20 and visit for more information about our organization.

Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is seeking sponsorship partners

Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is seeking sponsorship partners for our new Kwe Performance Series. We have the exciting opportunity for matching funds through the artsVest program and are looking for the right partner(s) to reach our goal of $1500. (Or more!) Sponsors need to confirm contributions by August 31, 2016.

The Kwe Performance Series 2016-17 is a three part performance series that takes place in Toronto and in Ontario First Nations communities (in the past we have presented in Nippising and Pikwakanagan). This November, the series kicks off with an Inuit artist showcase at The Music Gallery (with performers Ivaluarjuk, Nukariik, and Taqralik Partridge), in January we are presenting Haudenosaunee elder and singer Sadie Buck (legendary!), and in March we are bringing the groundbreaking trio Ulali.

To be eligible for artsVest matching, sponsorship partners need to be for profit organisations. As a small non-profit arts org, we do big things within the Indigenous arts community, and increasingly – thanks to our presenting partners like The Music Gallery – into Toronto’s mainstream audiences. This partnership is an opportunity for exposure to a dedicated audience of women, Indigenous artist and supporters, and a broader reach of the city’s art-loving audiences.

We’d love to talk with you further about it. Please email our Artistic Producer Erika Iserhoff at

Chi miigwetch.

Presentation of The Barbara Laronde Award in Temagami

It was a beautiful summer day in Temagami when the second annual Barbara Laronde Award was presented on July 17 to Janelle Wawia with the award’s namesake, Barbara Laronde, herself.

Our artistic producer Erika Iserhoff, our board chair Kerry Potts, our board cultural leader and elder Jacqui Lavalley, and NWIA founder Sandra Laronde celebrated Janelle in partnership with the Temagami Deep Water Music Festival.

We also took the opportunity to honour Sandra and her contribution to NWIA and our community. Chi Miigwetch to all of the award’s supporters, donations, partners, and to the Laronde family.

Janelle, Barbara, Sandra, Kerry, and Erika

And thank you to Sandra Laronde for the photos of these beautiful and powerful kwe!

Announcing the 2016 Barbara Laronde Award Recipient!


Native Women in the Arts announces winner of second annual Barbara Laronde Award.

TORONTO, ON (June 20, 2016) – Native Women in the Arts (NWIA) is thrilled to announce the winner of the second annual Barbara Laronde Award: Janelle Wawia.

The 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 female 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 in 2015.

Janelle Wawia is an artist from Opwaaganasiniing/Red Rock First Nation (Lake Helen Reserve). A painter and fashion designer who incorporates contemporary and traditional influences in her work, Janelle works in fur (obtained from her family’s trap line as Janelle is also a trapper), leather, porcupine quills, beadwork, and acrylic paint. Through these varied mediums, she draws on and references Anishinaabe floral designs, medicine and messengers, women, ceremony, and connection to the land.

Submissions to this year’s award doubled from its inaugural year in 2015, and Janelle was selected from these submissions through NWIA’s Board of Directors’ voting process. Says NWIA Artistic Producer Erika Iserhoff, “Janelle is not only a promising emerging artist who, though self-taught, has already created a diverse body of multi-discplinary work that both touched and impressed us all, she is also dedicated to her community and to being a strong representation of women and mothers within her community and culture.”

NWIA is excited to support the continuing creative and professional achievements of Janelle Wawia with the $1500 award, which will be presented with Barbara Laronde in Temagami on July 17th during the Deepwater Music Festival.

Over 22 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.

For further information about NWIA visit or call 416-598-4078.

Hosted by the Temagami Artist Collective, the Deepwater Music Festival takes place this year July 15-17, 2016, at Temagami’s waterfront. This year’s lineup includes Les Stroud, Les Gens du Nord, Esther Pennell & Pete Fex, Lee Frappier, Wayne Potts, Addison & Adams, Jake Thomas Trio, David Laronde Band, Peter Cliche, Eigth Thunderbird Drum, and more. Festival wristbands include entry to the concurrent Temagami Canoe Festival.

For further information visit


Call for Submissions for The Mush Hole Project

An Invitation to Aboriginal Artists for Truth and Reconciliation Response Projects – open now until June 19, 2016.

We are pleased to be working in partnership for this important project that will be taking place at the Mohawk Institute Residential School. This call for submissions is open to Aboriginal artists. Please submit your proposals by June 19. Please share and submit your work!

Mush Hole Project:

Important Dates
Call for Submissions: May 1 – June 19, 2016
Notification Date: June 30, 2016
Event Dates: September 16 – 18, 2016

Mush Hole Project
Contact: Andy Houston
Email: houston[at]
Phone: 519-888-4567 ext. 37029

Submissions must include the following:

  • Project Description: applicants should describe the proposed art work, project, or performance including title, medium, dimensions, duration, spatial and technological requirements
  • Selection of Images: 2-3 images of the art work, project, or performance (if it is an existing piece)
  • Artist’s CV: current, maximum 3 pages
  • Applications are to be submitted in a single PDF document — with the subject line “Mush Hole Project” — in care of Greg Campbell:

The Mush Hole Project is an immersive, site-specific art and performance installation event taking place at the Woodland Cultural Centre (Brantford) from September 16 to 18, 2016. This project aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and to preserve, query, and reveal the complex personal, political, and public narratives around Canada’s residential school system, in general, and the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School (at the Woodland Cultural Centre) specifically, through the art of contemporary Aboriginal artists.

The Mush Hole Project selection committee is seeking individual responses from artists that question the following: Apartheid, Assimilation, Decolonization, Education, Genocide, Intergenerational Trauma, Mohawk Institute, Nourishment, Reconciliation, and Truth. The artists of the Mush Hole Project will animate the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School site. Artists may propose interior and/or exterior works or creative interventions and should identify a site on the grounds of the Woodland Cultural Centre for the installation or performance of their work (for example, the driveway, apple orchard, library, kitchen, etc). Artists are encouraged to consider the residential school system through the dichotomy of both historical and contemporary knowledges and creative practices.

Mush Hole Project and Save the Evidence: The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School building at the Woodland Cultural Centre has been providing in-depth and historically significant insight into the Residential School System for the past 44 years. The Mohawk Institute is one of less than 10 residential schools still standing across Canada. With close to 10,000 visitors every year, tours and programs offer a distinctive look into First Nations and Canadian history. The Mush Hole Project aims to raise awareness and encourage support for the Save the Evidence campaign, to ensure that the physical evidence of this dark chapter in Canadian history is never forgotten.

Selection Process
The selection committee encourages proposals by artists from Six Nations of the Grand in Ontario and from the greater Ontario region; however, all Aboriginal artists are encouraged to apply. Artists may propose new works or offer existing works for the consideration of the selection committee. The committee is interested in a wide range of media including, but not limited to: dance, film/media, installation, sound art, visual/theatrical/musical performance, and visual art.

Selected artists will each receive an honorarium of not less than $1,000. Artists are responsible for providing their own supplies, materials, and technical devices, as well as crating, shipping, and/or transportation of the art works to the Mush Hole Project site. Installations will be scheduled with the participating artists throughout the month of August.

Note for multimedia artists: Mush Hole Project partner, REAP (Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity), is offering up to 3 weeks use of their digital facility, as well as equipment use for on-site installations.

Mush Hole Project Selection Committee:

Pat Deadman, Artist/Curator/Writer
Andrew Houston, University of Waterloo
Erika Iserhoff, Native Women in the Arts
Naomi Johnson, Artistic Director, Woodland Cultural Centre
Monique Mojica, Playwright/Director/Actor
Dawn Owen, Art Gallery of Guelph

Cultural Leaders Talks: with Harry and Juliana Snowboy

Native Women in the Arts is pleased to be presenting the Elders who form the Strong Earth Alliance, Harry and Juliana Snowboy. Please join us for teachings on Puberty Rites and Prophecies. This event is open and free to all community members.

Puberty Rites: This ceremony is one of the most important after the birth feast, where the childhood stage is let go by the youth and the transition into adulthood is made. This ceremony, brings the young person into the spirit world of grandmother earth.

Prophecies: There are Earth changes happening but there are also changes coming to human kind. A reawakening, “a higher level of frequencies” as explained by Harry Snowboy. There are visions and instructions he received as a young man that are now coming into being.

Friday April 8, 2016 from 6:30-8:30 pm
Location: Centre For Social Innovation – Spadina
Room: Innovation Lab – 4th Floor
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto Ontario
M5T 2C7

Juliana Matoush-Snowboy (James Bay Cree): Juliana holds a B.A. in Psychology from Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario. She is trained in suicide intervention (ASSIST, 2002), spent six years as the Social and Health Planning and Programming Officer for CBHSSJB in Chisasibi, Quebec, and worked as an interviewer for Health Canada in Eeyou Astchee. She works closely with her husband, Harry Snowboy, in running various traditional and healing gatherings both in Cree and urban communities, as well as offering drug and alcohol awareness seminars. She also facilitates training and coaching for women’s sweat lodge ceremonials. (Languages – English, French, Cree.)

Harry Snowboy (James Bay Cree): Harry is an author, public speaker, cultural advisor, and a traditional healer to numerous Native communities. A former Director of an Aboriginal Police Force, Harry provides information sessions and guidance on leadership, team-work, and lateral violence in the workplace, as well as reviewing and assessing projects involving programs focused on community well-being. His extensive experience in crisis response has provided him with insight on managing both short and long-term crises. He has also provided guidance to organizations seeking to incorporate holistic approaches on problematic issues facing many Native communities. These discussions are geared towards fostering understanding and bridging the gap between traditional and non-Indigenous belief systems (Languages – English, Cree).

The Strong Earth Alliance (SAE) is an organization that offers support to the needs of the First Nations communities regarding their culture, traditions, spirituality, and holistic health. It combines traditional and in at risk situations, trauma crises approaches, management, and holistic treatment programs. This support is provided in a structured, safe, nurturing, and supportive environment that promotes general well-being and where community members reconnect with their cultural identity and feel empowered. SAE encourages diversity and an environment that is respectful and inclusive to all genders, races, religions, and spiritual beliefs.

Photo provided by Strong Earth Alliance.

Photos from The Music Gallery

After an incredible week with three workshops in Toronto, and a workshop and performance in Pikwakanagan First Nation, this year’s Catalyst Series culminated in a magical evening at Toronto’s The Music Gallery.

Photographer John Paillé captured beautifully a few of the powerful moments with Pura Fé, Rosary Spence, and the invited guests Manitou Mkwa Singers.

Chi Miigwetch to to our co-presenter The Music Gallery, David Dacks,Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, Judy Sackney, Sarah Yankoo, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Kerry Potts, Susan Blight, and First Nations House – University of Toronto for the succesful week, and as always miigwetch to our funders for this project Canadian Heritage, Ontario Arts Council, Miziwe Biik, and FACTOR.