Art is a gift we can give ourselves, our communities, and future generations. A powerful means of self-expression and communication, art gives form to ideas and can help us imagine new ways of being.

As we engage in the process of reconciliation, we recognize that Indigenous art is a particularly valuable gift, able to transmit stories and share perspectives that will collectively lead us to a more equitable and sustainable decolonial future. Hosted throughout Summer 2023, the outreach program, Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts sought to inspire and activate the next generation of Indigenous artists, encouraging them to share their valuable insights through the gift of art.

Indigenous artists KC Adams, Jaime Black, Jessica Canard, and Sadie Lavoie led workshops for youth at Ka Ni Kanichihk, Marymound Inc., Rainbow Resource Centre, Willow Tree Action Therapy Youth Services, and participants of the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Summer Student Internship Program. These fun and engaging workshops were designed to share Indigenous knowledge, build community, and instill confidence, motivating youth to pursue their artistic passions. All of the artwork in this exhibition was made by youth participating in Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin workshops.

We are so grateful to receive and share these beautiful gifts. Thank you, Kinanaskomitin, Miigwech, Marsi.

We extend our gratitude to all of the youth who participated in this program, all of the artists who led workshops, and our community partners. Special thanks to Brielle Beardy-Linklater, Katherine Boyer, Tamara Cardinal, Nicole Downie, Janel Fiddler, Kim Linklater, Madison Neapew, Kasey Pashe, Bre Quirion, Deanna Davis, Jamie Thomas, Leslie Spillet, and Melanie Zebrynski for their support.

Support for Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts has been provided through the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Initiatives Fund.

5 youth students stand in a green, long grass field, during a willow picking workshop

Workshops

Rainbow Resource Centre

Artist: Sadie Lavoie
Youth: Bailey, Madison, Harold, Bre, Kurtis, Scott

2Spirit artist Sadie Lavoie’s workshop addressed teachings related to land, plants, and animals, and how they relate to 2Spirit identity. Working with natural materials that were harvested from the urban landscape, participants collaborated on four artworks that express their own identities and relationships to these teachings.

Action Therapy

Artist: Jaime Black
Youth: Amber, Ann, Dante, Jay, Jerzey, Jolene, Julieann, Kaitlyn, Karaliana, Kay, Kylee, Makayla, Mary, Rhythme, Ronnie, Sherena, Sierra, Taryn, and Tate

This land-based workshop explored ways that Indigenous youth and contemporary artists alike can learn through, and connect with, the art making practices of their ancestors. Together with workshop leader Jaime Black, youth harvested plants to create fired willow and vine charcoal, learning about the ways in which their ancestors, artists from over 8000 years ago, used these drawing tools to illustrate teachings, stories, and spiritual experiences. This hands-on process deepened an understanding of artists as integral meaning makers and recorders of their personal and shared histories.

Indigenous Student Summer Intern Program

Artist: KC Adams
Youth: Chloe, Herlinda, Jory, Kasey, Laura, MacGrey, Nicole

KC Adams’ workshop focused on the central theme of storytelling. Video can be one of the most immediate and expressive ways to tell your stories and share your gifts. Adams’ workshop demonstrated that you don’t necessarily need to invest in high-tech, expensive equipment to create moving and insightful documentaries or experimental works of video art: this collaboratively-created video was shot and edited on cellphones.

Ka Ni Kanichihk

Artist: Jessica Canard
Youth: Gwen, Heather, Jared, Kaizie, Kaydynce, Kelsey, Kenny, Martini, Michael, Rishi, Trinity,

Workshop leader Jessica Canard uses art to explore, reclaim, and bridge their Anishinaabe heritage with urban living. Their workshop invited youth to design and cut stencils to create art on canvas with spray paint. Together, they also learned a variety of techniques used by graffiti artists, muralists, and activists, using materials such as paint markers and Sharpies. 

About the Program

Kiskithihta Mīthokwesowin: Discovering our Gifts, is an Indigenous youth summer program that seeks to inspire and activate the next generation of Indigenous artists by instilling confidence and providing opportunities to explore art-making as a means of telling their stories. Working in partnership with community partners, the program offers a series of art workshops focused on cultural themes, led by professional Indigenous artists and developed in consultation with Elders.

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