she dances on northern lights

When I went to Vancouver last week-ish, I met up with my (now) good friend, Maddie. I had only previously met her at a wedding for a minute back in the day, but I was gonna crash on her couch because why not. I’ve been blessed in the past to be able to crash on new friend’s couches while travelling, and I knew that Maddie was originally from the North and we had multiple friends in common.

I got lost – of course – and pulled my massive suitcase into Maddie’s place, laughing as we awkwardly discussed how the trip was going. I’m not sure what broke the ice – it may have been her accent which is as thick as her hair (eeeee) – but once we started laughing and then coughing like old men, we quickly bonded and planned our photo session for the next day. Maddie is a talented dancer in multiple forms, but I really wanted to experiment with two ideas – a Métis Jigging Queen, and a more contemporary expression.

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I’ve always wanted to dance, and I’m still that kid out on the floor until the lights turn on, but once I saw the way Maddie could move – my heart ached even more for my lost dream. In a good way.

Maddie creates.

Maddie lives dance.

There was a fearlessness in her that I could appreciate, but never replicate. She gave me her all, and it was great to work with someone who trusted me to create my art while she did hers – making Indigenous magic happen.

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And because my creeper skills are great, I also contacted Elisha of @mua.nativebarbie after seeing some of her work on Instagram. She did this Coast Salish style on her face that had me thinking she could interpret what I wanted pretty easy. Elisha showed up, at first pretty quiet compared to Maddie and I, but as we went on – telling stories, snickering, coughing, sharing – Elisha started to laugh exactlyyyyyy like us. We’re a great influence.

And she slayedddddd her art.

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We were originally only going to the Métis Jigging creative session, but we had the opportunity to finish up with an oceanside session the day I left. We laughed over misheard words – “he thought your name was sweetPOON” – and I stood still for a second, listening to the Rez accents in a big city, the sweet rush of ocean wind blowing through our hair, and I smiled.

Sometimes you find kin in the most unexpected places.

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*These are just a few samples o fetch images; hella more coming soon 

Credits:  Model: Madelaine McCallum // Hair+Makeup: MUA Native Barbie  // Pink Gown: Chloë Angus Design // Earrings: Savage Rose  // Beaded Belt: Melody // Mukluks: Unknown (will gather name)

 – tenille campbell

Savanna Todd – Featured Artist

I’d like to introduce you to Savanna Todd. I met Savanna when I lived in Vancouver for a minute. I was involved at the Purple Thistle Centre a youth-run art and resource centre in east Vancouver where Savanna was a collective member. I moved away from Vancouver in 2012 and have stayed connected with many of the people I met via The Purple Thistle. Though I was there for a very brief time, I learned so much from the collective and the community there. The Purple Thistle has since closed its doors but the connections made there still reverberate. I invited Savanna to share some of her photography for this blog, hope you enjoy!
Introduce yourself and where you are from.
My name is Savanna Todd and I live in east Vancouver.
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What is your relationship with photography as both photo taker and sometimes subject?
I’ve been dabbling in photography from behind and in front of the camera for awhile now. Although it’s never grown as more than a hobby, I still take classes and feel compelled to keep using it as a tool to explore composition and my own personal interests.
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What other media do you work in?
I’m primarily an illustrator. I’m currently studying Illustration at Emily Carr University. I’ve also made short films.
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Where do you find inspiration for your art?
I’m very taken by vivid color-schemes and bold angles. I often look to old Hollywood and contemporary fashion photography for inspiration and cues, anything that conveys the mood that I’m going for.
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Film or digital?
I’ve shot on both. I have to say that although I love film, I feel more comfortable using digital because it allows me to take as many pictures as I want while having the option to view each one.
> > Connect with Savannah on Instagram <<
 – joi t arcand