We are visual artists ranging – currently – from Ottawa to Vancouver Island. Our goal is to provide a safe haven to talk about what inspires us, what goals we are reaching for in our work, and building community. Here is a little bit about each of us:
Tenille Campbell, Saskatchewan
I’m Tenille. I’m Dene and Metis, and I grew up on English River First Nation, located in Northern Saskatchewan. I drink a lot of coffee, I sing out-loud and quite badly at that on long road trips, and I adore a good story.
I always wanted to be a writer but in my early twenties, I picked up my first dSLR and found a new way to share experiences. It’s been a huge learning curve, as I’m self-taught, but it’s been an amazing journey as well.
I currently live in Saskatoon, SK and attend the University for my PhD. I’m a single mom to my eight-year-old, Aerie. I own my own business, sweetmoon photography. It’s hectic, but I love all aspects of my life. I’ve always believed in loving what you do, and it’s worked out very well for me.
My goal has always been to capture my Indigenous people on camera, breaking down visual stereotypes, and promoting the laughter and joy in my world.
– Tenille Campbell
Joi T. Arcand, Ottawa
I’m a photo-based artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan currently living in Ottawa, Ontario. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005, since then I have exhibited across Canada, the United States and Europe.
In 2012, I combined my love of art, design, and publishing to create kimiwan ‘zine, a magazine for Indigenous artists and writers. I’m a freelance graphic designer and full-time artist.
– Joi Arcand
Shawna McLeod, NorthWest Territories
Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, I have spent most of my life living in the small aboriginal community of Fort Providence. Growing up, I was always known to have a camera of some sort on hand – ready to capture interesting images. People see me as fun loving, adventurous and spontaneous person.
After graduating from high school, I ventured off to photography school with a goal of becoming a professional photographer. In 2012, I graduated with a diploma in professional photography from the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, BC. It was while attending photography school that I recognized that beauty shots, traditional clothing and Northern backdrops came together very well in a photograph.
I am currently residing in Yellowknife, NT with my family, working for the Aboriginal Sport Circle of the NWT as the Traditional Games Coordinator. My specialty is teaching Indigenous Games and I also work as a professional photographer as a side interest. I travel to Northern Communities to take portraits of families and individuals, weddings, community events and landscape photos.
My photography is featured in numerous publications, websites and media including: the Uphere Magazine and Yukon Ordinary. Fashion photography inspired by indigenous culture is where my real interest is. This allows me to be creative in several ways including styling, makeup, traditional clothing, props and settings.
– Shawna McLeod
Caroline Blechert, British Columbia
Hello, I’m Caroline! Originally from Yellowknife, NT currently living in beautiful British Columbia. I’m a full time jewelry artist, and occasional photographer. Photography has been an incredible outlet and inspiring aspect to my jewelry as I’ll often create pieces inspired by an idea for a photo-shoot or a person in mind to photograph. My greatest inspiration however comes from examining culture and how it evolves. I believe deep-rooted tradition connect us to the past and the legacy of our ancestors. Respecting tradition and keeping it alive through art drives my creative process, therefore my Inuvialuit background is an important part of my identity and outlook on life.
– Caroline Blechert
Amanda Laliberte, British Columbia
I was raised with the teachings of living in the bush, the farm and the city. I grew up eating bannock and bismarcks; drinking pic-a-pop and jersey cream; devouring dried moose meat and pickled herring; walking in mukluks and roller skating in the basement; finding treasures at the garbage dump and under the christmas tree; picking blueberries and watering carrots; ice fishing and reading sweet valley twins. I was told stories of the rougarou and of the Holy Spirit, and I knew that my ancestors were heinz-57. Now I eat salmon and blackberries; walk among the cedars with my sons and hear the whales breathe in the mist; stand with a camera always in my hand while the eagles fly overhead.
– Amanda Laliberte
Jessica Wood, British Columbia
A’ma’sai! I’m Jessica Wood and I’m a queer Gitxan/Tsimshian activist, professional photographer, and multi-disciplinary artist whose background in traditional indigenous art is the foundation for my contemporary work. My work on Finding Dawn, a National Film Board documentary about missing and murdered aboriginal women, has influenced all of my visual and written art over the last twelve years.
I love stretching the boundaries of what a photographic image is, and am known for my photographic composites. I strive to transform individual images into a visual lyric that better express a modern Indigenous narrative. I love exploring and exposing the often-overlooked dimensions of contemporary indigenous life.
– Jessica Wood–
Claudine Bull, Alberta
Hi, I’m Claudine. I’m a Cree woman currently living on a farm in Alberta with my husband, dogs, and extended family. I’ve been into photography for as long as I remember, with my mom buying me disposable film cameras. It was in University that I bought myself my first dlsr and showing my work online. I’m in a constant battle to find that balance between photography as my passion and it becoming just another job. To pace myself, I limit who I photograph and where I wok, allowing my photography room to breathe and stay joyful. I currently work in a high school, which has turned into an amazing opportunity to connect with and meet youth and elders from my community, which has been a huge blessing. During my free time I train to become a stronger Olympic weightlifter, something I’ve been competing in for the past year.
– Claudine Bull
Shayla Snowshoe, Alberta
My Jijuu (grandmother) calls me by my Gwich’in name, “Gwik’itchihkheh”, but most others just call me Shayla. I was born and raised by the Peel River in Gwich’in country – Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories. I’m currently attending the University of Alberta where I am studying Native Studies & Education.
As a young, Indigenous woman, I have to come to understand the value of heritage and education and how the two are intertwined into my life, just like a braid. There are three strands. One strand is my culture – hunting, fishing, sewing, the land, the language, and my Jijuu. The next strand is education – learning and experiencing new things everyday, my desire to obtain a degree in order to give back to my community through education. The last strand is me– my heart, soul, strength, beliefs, dreams, goals and my love. Each strand is just as important and inspirited as the next.
Where does photography fit in with all of that? Photography is my form of art to express what’s in my mind while showcasing the beauty of this journey that we call life. I am very honored for this opportunity to work together with such empowering and beautifully Indigenous women.
– Shayla Snowshoe
Leslee Merasty, Alberta
I am Leslee. Born and raised in Edmonton, AB by my late mother, who was a strong-willed Cree woman and taught me a lifetime of lessons in a short thirteen years, and by my dad (stepdad), who is Algonquin mix adopted out of Ontario, and equally as influential to me. I have learned to be the person I am because of them. I’ve lived in various parts of Saskatchewan over the past ten years and now I return to my homelands having made many connections and with gained experience, education and replenished excitement for the new beginning that is approaching me and my little family. I am a single mother to my three-year-old Zurri Doreen. From the moment she came into my life, she has given me the courage to be who both of us need. Together, we can face anything.
The root of my soul has always been to create, usually in the form of singing, painting, or photography. I operate my own photography business called Tiny Zeppelin Storytelling and it’s important to me to use my skill to highlight Indigenous people, talent, creatives and business. Working within Indigenous communities and telling our stories of connection to each other and the land continues to fill my cup in indescribable ways. Our stories are powerful, and unique and all of them remind me of home and of my own family.
– Leslee Merasty