Category Archives: Artworks

Billboard for the Kateri Memorial Hospital Center

The purpose of this mural is to honor the tireless work of the staff at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Center. From frontline workers to those who work in the background to ensure the hospital as a whole runs with both structure and humility, their ongoing effort to support its people truly reflects the concept of community. During the pandemic, the staff have been diligent to delivery safe services with the continued amount of care they have always brought to Kahnawake. 

In this image, I have painted two medical staff who are smiling and extending a warm welcome to our community. Both are wearing beaded masks made by our own people and one holds a burning sage bowl. From the smoke of the sage comes good energy, including the iconic rainbow colours we have come to associate with resilience during this pandemic seamlessly woven into the smoke. Behind them is a sunset with both the sun and the moon-cycle, to represent both the cultural teachings of transition and change as well as to demonstrate the around the clock dedication of our staff. Along the horizon line are all the staff standing together. This is to represent the community of people involved within the health system, who together hold us during this pandemic and always. From their feet run roots to the bottom of the mural because their devotion is rooted in the love from our ancestors, regardless of where we come from.

Written at the bottom is the word Entewatatse’nia:ron which translates to “we will preserve”. The entire concept embraces the work of the staff who ensure that we will overcome this pandemic as a community. 

I have so much gratitude for being invited to be part this project.

https://fb.watch/1AoP9G1x-b/

APTN Skindigenous Mini-Documentary Series

As part of APTN’s season 2 series called Skindigenous, I was invited to participate in a mini documentary about art therapy in First Nations communities.

In our conversation, we explored the role of multigenerational trauma and the impact of cultural restoration in community health. There was focus on identity exploration and the power art-making lends to its creator to deconstruct and reconstruction what it means to be Indigenous.

The Art of Art Therapists

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Between now and the end of September, an exhibition is being held at the La Ruche D’Art Art Hive. The Art Hive is a community art studio where individuals and groups are invited to freely create with the materials available, free of cost. This studio increases accessibility to community building, creativity and mental health support through the visual arts.

The current exhibition features both art therapists and art facilitators as they explore their own identity as professionals in the field. The artworks I have included in this exhibition are for sale. If interested, please contact me via my contact page to set up an e-transfer or visit the exhibition.

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Mural for Champlain College’s Indigenous Awareness Week

In March 2019, the following artwork was commissioned as part of Champlain College’s (QC) Indigenous Awareness Week. The goal was to create an image that reflected on traditional knowledge, colonization and trauma as well as the multigenerational resilience of Indigenous people.

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“Multigenerational Resilience” (2019). Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte. Acrylic on un-stretched canvas

Taking a Mohawk First Nation’s approach, the painting was constructed through narrative, contained in the symbol of a wampum and spread across a 3ft by 8ft canvas. The two-row wampum, to provide some background to this symbol, was a historic treaty agreement between the First Nations people and the Crown that stated that each nation was of its own way of life, living side by side.

The imagery within this symbol was meant to timeline the role of colonization and its impact on Indigenous wellness, including how genocide, missing and murdered Indigenous women, legislative violence and Residential schooling led to multigenerational trauma as well as outstanding socio-economic marginalization. The  wampum symbol within the current societal context thus reflects the social commentary on the poor state of ‘nation-to-nation’ dialogue with Indigenous communities. The mural also acts to reflect the multigenerational wisdom and resilience of Indigenous people through the ways communities have adapted to cultural safety and that ways nations stand in solidarity against injustice to land, body and culture.

This mural now permanently resides at the Champlain College in Quebec as a conversation piece among its students. Reconciliation begins with dialogue.

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Mural displayed at Champlain College.

CBC Montreal “Turtle Island Reads”

On September 21st 2016, I was commissioned by CBC radio to create a live painting for their Turtle Island Reads. Turtle Island Reads is an Indigenous initiative that celebrates First Nations, Metis and Inuit literature that have had a significant impact on educators, youth and professionals in the community.

The live event consisted of a panel of community members discussing the role of Indigenous literature in the context of decolonization, socio-political movements and identity development.

My role was to capture the theme of the hour-long event within the hour provided. I chose to paint the creation story as a segue into exploring how narratives shape our lives as Indigenous people.

TEESPRING CAMPAIGN FOR INDIGENOUS YOUNG PARENTING PROGRAM

Support the continuation of Skatne Ionkwatehiarontie (Our Families Grow Together), a youth-led and grassroots Haudenosaunee parenting program for young parents under the age of 25. Participants include young parents, pregnant women and couples, youth thinking of starting families as well as sibling caregivers, aunts, uncles, step parents, two spirited and LGBTTIQQA community members.

The mission of the group is to explore and decolonize child development, sexual health, and attachment parenting through an interactive and arts-based look into our Haudensosaunee seven rights of passage ceremonies, creation story and other traditional knowledge.

As a second layer, the program aims to reduce the stigma young parents face by empowering them through story sharing, elders, cultural teachings and art-processing.

The program is closing it’s second 10 week session. Check out our facebook page for more information: www.facebook.com/OurFamiliesGrowTogether

Sales for this t-shirt will go towards creating a sustainable program.

Fuelling the next generation!

Art-making and Self Determine-Nation

Yesterday, a colleague and I travelled to Quebec City to co-facilitate a workshop on human rights, community mobilization and youth activism as part of the Quebec and Labrador First Nations Youth Forum.

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Participants visual art response to the question: What human rights are you passionate about and what is one thing you can do for yourself, your family or your community to acknowledge it?

As the media arts coordinator of the Kahnawake Youth Forum and in collaboration with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, we put together a series of art activities and ice breaker warm ups to move the energy and activate the processing abilities of the group.

From human rights pick up lines to creating a Self Determine-Nation collage, we journeyed through the grey area, also known as Human Rights.

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Circle debrief

We reminded ourselves, that Indigenous rights are human rights. They are not “special rights”.

We reminded ourselves that we are born into our language, our culture and the land. These are inherent rights and are legally binding (UNDRIP–United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People); they are not given or determined by an outside entity.

We also reminded ourselves of the work of our ancestors, like Deskaheh, who teach us how to stand up for our rights as Indigenous People and as Human Beings. He teaches us that we have a voice in the United Nations arena and that we have a voice on what affects our own lives.

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Colleague Jessica Deer and I

Through the work that we do, we always reminded that changes and conversations on Human Rights do not have to start at the UN level, but can and should start in the home, in the family and in the community.

Art creates change.

Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together”

Today, I reflect on the Skátne Ionkwatehiahróntie’ – “Our Families Grow Together” program in my community.

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Planting through our Creation Story

It was almost one year ago, I approached a good friend of mine at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network with an idea: “I want to run a parenting program for parent’s under the age of 25. I want to address the stigma we face as young parents and I want to create a space where we learn our traditional teachings with our children. I want to do it through art”

Having a background in Circle of Security Attachment parenting as well as formal training in Art Education gave me the confidence to dream the program, but being a young mother myself gave me the courage to chase it.

As young parents, we tend to be labeled as “failed”, “irresponsible”, or “unsuccessful”; there is stigma that follows us when we leave the house that sometimes affects our own confidence in parenting. Even in safe spaces like parenting groups or support groups, our needs and experiences tend . All of the sudden, becoming a young mom meant I no longer had access to sexual education or support resources for my age.

And I know I was not alone.

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Weekly reflection mural; at the end of 10 weeks, we will have a large mural full of ideas, experiences and teachings.

Together, we actively sought out funding and networking to create something unique for the other young mothers in the community; I wanted to create a space for us to grow together WITH our children–not just as people or parents, but as Kanienkeha’ka. I wanted to empower our young women and remind them of how important they are, not just to their little ones but to our whole community–to themselves.

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Learning and making traditional medicine.

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Making our “distress kits”–medicine bags to fill up with our own healing tools.

Fast forward two phases, each lasting 10 weeks, we now have a group of young women actively learning their language, their traditions and their teachings through our relationships to the land and our culture.

Together, we explore healthy relationships, rites of passage, parenting struggles and life struggles through cultural knowledge.

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Taking our children strawberry picking and sharing their teachings in the land with our children.

Granted, curriculum planning, funding hunting and coordinating elders/knowledge keepers in the community is no easy feat, but I wouldn’t trade facilitating this program for the world.

Just hearing the young women share their stories in how they changed how they parent as well as relate to their children (and themselves!) is enough to keep the fire going.

Each of them have gifts and it is through programs like this one, that they are able to grow each of them.

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Charting our moontimes through beaded necklaces

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Making moontime zines and restoring traditional knowledge

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Making splints to weave a basket.

Their little ones have a strong future ahead of them.

Call out for submissions: HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN

I will be curating another national art exhibition, alongside the Kahnawake Youth Forum.

Art Making and Cultural Restoration

Reflecting back to 2014, I worked with some youth from a neighbouring Mohawk community who were going through our traditional rites of passage ceremonies. In addition to processing traditional knowledge, myself and a colleague of mine ran through an arts-based workshop on leadership and youth/community mobilization.

We used interactive activities to deconstruct the definitions of leadership and help each youth (11-21) reapply new concepts to themselves. To finish, we facilitated the creation of 30 foot mural of leadership in Indigenous communities.

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To have a workshop facilitated in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me.