INVC students offer sneak peek into ROM collaboration

Group photo of students and others involved in the project
Monday, April 9, 2018

A museum technician in white gloves laid out a beaded vest and an ornate hood at the media preview of Uncover/Recover at the Royal Ontario Museum April 6. Imbued with history, culture and artistry, these colourful artifacts are among the objects from the ROM’s archives that nine students from the INVC program are researching for an interactive digital project. The result, Uncover/Recover, will be an online learning environment that incorporates photography, sound, digital manipulation and time-based media.

At the preview, students Megan Feheley and Shawn Johnston spoke about how they developed their works, what inspired them and the travel and research they undertook for this deeply personal project. Feheley will transform and animate images derived from beadwork, while Johnston’s audio work will incorporate the sounds of a deer hoof rattle.

Bonnie Devine, associate professor and the founding chair of the INVC program, believes the project will bring the stories of these artifacts to viewers across the province, and country.  

The Uncover/Recover website will be online this summer thanks to funding support from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Female student standing next to a table with hood and vest artifacts
a man and three women standing for photo

Meet Anishinaabe artist Katheryn Wabegijig

My name is Katheryn Wabegijig. I am a 37 year old Ojibway/Odawa multi-disciplinary artist, custom picture framer and emerging writer who grew up in the small mining town of Elliot Lake, Ontario with ancestry in Wikwemikong, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and belonging to Garden River First Nation/Ketegaunseebee. I graduated from Cambrian College’s 4 year Fine Arts program in 2003 and in 2016 with a BFA from OCAD University majoring in Drawing and Painting and minoring in Indigenous Visual Culture where I furthered my cultural education and continued on my path towards Decolonization through cathartic personal explorations.

It is not difficult to see why OCAD University is the leading academic institution of choice for Indigenous students pursuing Art and Design post-secondary education and I would like to share with you some of my experiences here at OCAD and in the INVC program. I believe that Indigenous students in communities across Turtle Island have a great opportunity to excel as artists and designers through the various programs that are offered here and the amount of support offered to students. I also believe that it is vital to go directly to those communities, engage those wishing to further their arts education and inspire their choice to be OCAD University.

I, myself, entered OCAD University as a second year transfer student and mature student after 10 years of focusing on my custom picture framing career. I graduated from Cambrian College where I took their 4 year Fine Arts program in 2003 but always had the dream of attending OCAD. I had to make a choice between my career and furthering my education and so, I told myself, “If I get accepted into OCAD University this time, I’m going!” The professors, staff and fellow artists here made my experience at OCAD University the very best decision of my life and I wish I had had the courage to take the step earlier. It was the best decision that I have ever made for myself as an artist and as an individual. I took Drawing and Painting as my major. I felt that I absolutely needed to take the Indigenous Visual Culture program because it was vital to my learning as an Anishinaabe artist who is continually searching for my place in each of the communities that I have grown up within.

Not only did I achieve my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an INVC minor but I had the opportunity to witness and learn from amazing Indigenous artists and staff at INVC who profoundly changed and supported my art practice. OCAD U and INVC made it possible for me to delve into my art by working through personal and cultural issues in a safe and supportive environment. In fact, my artwork that was featured in the culminating Grad Ex show for the graduating class was purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum! So, the opportunities here at OCAD University are truly countless, with exhibition opportunities that are attended by some of the most influential people in the art industry.

Also, students will find that throughout their time here that they will continually be surrounded by those influential presences. To be able to hear Janet Rogers recite and perform her powerful pieces of writing, to share in the knowledge of respected Elders and artists like Duke Redbird, to go on a tour of the ROM led by Bonnie Devine (the founding Chair of INVC) speaking on her masterpieces or to be lucky enough to be taught by her or Ryan Rice, an amazing Curator and the Chair of INVC, is undoubtedly an honour and only to be experienced here at Canada’s oldest and largest art, design and new media university.

The INVC Student Centre creates many community building events and activities including Buffalo Stew lunches held every Wednesday, Bead and Read which brings together readings from amazing authors while learning new beading techniques. The Mighty Pen, a writing group held for Indigenous students and students of colour began in my final year at OCAD U. I had the privilege of being involved with the very first group. What stemmed from that was a reconnection to my love for writing that led to my first published piece this year. My mentor from that group was and still is an amazing support. These groups, staff and spaces offer a welcoming gathering place to share experience, grow as artists and make friends that will last well beyond your OCAD University experience! Organized trips that I was able to attend were The McMichael Gallery and the Petroglyphs in Peterborough, which had an incredible impact on my art practice. That list is ever expanding, connecting students in this amazing program to culturally significant and life-altering experiences in Toronto and surrounding areas.

The way that I was able to delve into my art by working through personal and cultural issues in a safe and supportive environment allowed me to come to many realizations and revelations that carry with me in my professional career as an artist and as Collections Manager at Canadian Arctic Producers.

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OCAD U’s Dr. Gerald McMaster advisor on new CBC series 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

CBC’s new ten-part docu-drama series, CANADA: The STORY OF US, highlights extraordinary moments in Canada’s history and people that helped forge a nation, from early Indigenous history to the 20th century.  The series was produced under the guidance of historians and academic consultants, including OCAD University’s Indigenous Scholar, Dr. Gerald McMaster, who served as one of the primary consultants. Ground-breaking curator, author, artist and educator, Dr. McMaster is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture & Curatorial Practice at OCAD U.

CANADA: THE STORY OF US takes viewers inside Canada’s history with dramatic re-enactments, ground-breaking CGI sequences and documentary-style virtual reality experiences. The series features the stories of Indigenous peoples, women, immigrants, pioneers, rule-breakers, scientists and entrepreneurs – many of them untold until now. The series highlights key moments spanning centuries of history beginning with Indigenous nations in the pre-contact era to 1608 with the arrival of explorer Samuel de Champlain in “Worlds Collide,” to the introduction of the sea otter trade by Mowachaht leader and statesman Chief Maquinna in “Hunting Treasure” (1778-1802), to “Boom Bust” (1911-1937) with populations exploding in urban centres, concluding with the creation of Nunavut in “Canadian Experiment” (1970-1999).

Each week, during the run of the series, in partnership with, the world’s largest online family history resource and an integrated sponsor of CANADA: THE STORY OF US, CBC will air a short vignette featuring a Canadian celebrity from the series, including Susan Aglukark, Wendy Crewson, Sarah Gadon, Mike Holmes, Missy Peregrym, Jennifer Podemski and Mary Walsh, who will discover something new and surprising about their own family histories.

CANADA: THE STORY OF US will also be brought to life online through a trio of immersive, 360-degree videos that will put viewers inside key moments in Canadian history. Through these interactive vignettes, viewers will be transported into the lives of Chief Maquinna; Laura Secord; and Richard Rettie and W.C. Wilkinson – two Canadian scientists who led a team to decode the Nazi Smart Bomb. Produced by Secret Location, all three 360 videos feature ambisonic sound to further immerse viewers in the scene. The videos will be available at and on Facebook for viewing on desktop, mobile and tablet devices.

Series premieres Sunday, March 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC

Four Points on an Aesthetic Map: Aboriginal Media Art in Canada

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - 4:00am to Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 4:00am

Presented by Urban Shaman Gallery.

This project seeks to put a context and history to Aboriginal media art practice and provide a forum dedicated to the representation of Aboriginal artists working in the media arts. We have invited three nationally recognized curators to create programs of seminal works by Aboriginal artists, thus creating an online exhibition of Aboriginal media works representing major artists and movements within media arts discourse. The selected curators have produced critical essays and online curator's talks on the impacts and history of media art within an Aboriginal context.

Native artists work from a history grounded in the colonial experience. Yet an aesthetic has developed in spite of cultural oppression and repression that is distinct, vibrant and multi, as well as cross disciplinary. In many ways, the work of Aboriginal media artists can be seen as the outgrowth of a distinctly Aboriginal visual and literary culture. It represents an aesthetic of nexus based on an oral storytelling tradition and the increased participation of Aboriginal artists in visual arts culture.

As more media art finds its way into gallery and presentation spaces, we must examine the place of an Aboriginal cultural specificity. What is important here, is that this is not a dialogue about the formation of some pan-Indian identity politic, but that experimentation in media art by Aboriginal artists challenges control by others of our image and our perception. This is our point of departure.

Curated by Professor Richard Fung, David Garneau and Cynthia Lickers-Sage. Includes work by alumna Rebecca Belmore. To learn more visit the website.


Buffalo Jump 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008 - 2:00pm

This year the members of the Aboriginal Students Association (ASA) at OCAD are participating in Buffalo Jump 2008 and would like to extend an an invitation to the rest of the OCAD community to join us. This is a great opportunity to show our support on behalf of OCAD and this will give everyone the chance to engage in traditional First Nations' activities such as dancing, prayer and celebration. We live in such a multicultural city and are part of a very multicultural academic environment, and this day is a great day to be more aware of this fact.
Although this is a day to celebrate First Nations culture, the main reason for this festival has always been to unite ALL people. With this in mind we hope to see as many people from the OCAD community there, and more information will come as the date approaches.
National Aboriginal Day is celebrated every June 21.
The Cultural Walk starts at City Hall, and ends in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Venue & Address: 
Nathan Philips Square Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario

K. Jake Chakasim - wapimisow: a boreal approach to art, architecture + identity

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 5:30pm to 6:45pm

Please join us in room 510A in the Annex Building

K. Jake Chakasim will be presenting his talk 

wapimisow: a boreal approach to art, architecture + identity

K. Jake Chakasim is a lecturer at the School of Architecture where he teaches Architectural Design Studio. His interdisciplinary approach to the profession of architecture addresses the need to re-contextualize Aboriginal traditions through refined typologies. For his efforts, Jake was awarded the Architectural Research Center Consortium (ARCC) Jonathan King Medal for 2010-11, an award that acknowledges innovation, integrity and scholarship in architectural and/or environmental design research. Jake is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Studies at Laurentian University with a focus on the design-based economy of Indigenous communities. 


presented by the 

Indigenous Visual Culture Program 

and Writing and Learning Centre

 See Facebook event page link -

Venue & Address: 
Annex Building, room 510A
wapimisow poster with event info and aurora borealis

National Aboriginal Day celebrated at OCAD University

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 4:00am

(Toronto—June 14, 2010) OCAD University’s Aboriginal Visual Culture Program celebrates National Aboriginal Day with the launch of the exhibitions Passages: First Peoples at OCAD at the University, and Endaian at the McMichael Canadian Collection. The University will also hold Portage: A symposium on Aboriginal Visual Culture with guests Duke Redbird, Robert Houle and Susan Dion.

Passages: First Peoples at OCAD is presented in On Site at OCAD, and showcases the work of OCAD’s Indigenous alumni, faculty, students and staff. An opening ceremony and reception will take place in the Great Hall on National Aboriginal Day, Monday, June 21, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The exhibition continues until July 2.

On June 22 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Portage: A symposium on Aboriginal Visual Culture offers guests an opportunity to hear the first-hand accounts of artists and scholars who contributed to the reawakening of Aboriginal people and their culture in Canada. Portage speakers’ stories extend from the 1960s to the present and recount, from their unique perspectives, the key events in recent Aboriginal history — events that contributed to the emergence of a vibrant Aboriginal presence in the contemporary cultural scene. Speakers are Duke Redbird, poet, artist, actor, educator; Robert Houle, artist, curator, writer, educator; and Susan Dion, writer, educator. Portage takes place in the OCAD University Auditorium.

The exhibition Endaian (or “home” in Ojibwa) runs from June 19 to September 6, with an opening reception on Tuesday, June 22 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The exhibit includes work by OCAD Aboriginal students Violet Chum, Erika A. Iserhoff, Meryl McMaster, Antoine Mountain and Lisa Myers, all of whom are responding to the work of the Group of Seven.

To learn more about OCAD’s Aboriginal Visual Culture Program, visit

Portage Symposium Speaker Biographies:

Duke Redbird, poet, broadcaster, artist
During the sixties and seventies Duke Redbird was in the forefront of Aboriginal political organizations and was a prominent public speaker on Native issues, providing First Nations people in Canada with new, young and aggressive leadership. He was president of the Ontario Métis and Non-status Indian Association and director of their land claims research, as well as vice-president of the Native Council of Canada. A prominent broadcaster and poet, Duke has appeared in numerous film and video productions and spoken on Native issues both nationally and internationally. Duke Redbird received his M.A. in interdisciplinary studies at York University, Toronto in 1978. He currently serves as mentor/advisor in the Aboriginal Visual Culture Program at OCAD University.

Robert Houle, artist, curator, writer, educator
Robert Houle has exhibited his work internationally since the 1970s, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and many others. In Canada, he has shown work at the National Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Carleton University Art Gallery, and many more. His work is included in most major Canadian collections. Houle was the first Aboriginal curator of Indian Art at the National Museum of Man (now the Museum of Civilization) in Ottawa from 1977 to 1980 and co-curated the landmark exhibition Land, Spirit, Power at the National Gallery of Canada in 1992. Houle was the first Aboriginal faculty member at OCAD University, a position he held for fifteen years until 2005.

Susan Dion, scholar, educator
Susan Dion is an Aboriginal scholar who has been working in the field of education for 25 years. Her teaching and research focuses on understanding the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. Dion’s research interests include the social and political contexts of education; disrupting memories of post-invasion First Nations - Canadian Relations; resistance strategies of Aboriginal adolescent girls; Aboriginal Women and the policy of forced assimilation and violence prevention in Aboriginal communities. Dion’s recently published book Braiding Histories: Learning from Aboriginal Peoples' Experiences and Perspectives proposes a new pedagogy for addressing Aboriginal subject material, shifting the focus from an essentializing or "othering" exploration of the attributes of Aboriginal peoples to a focus on historical experiences that inform our understanding of contemporary relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Dr. Dion is a professor in the Faculty of Education at York University.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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For more information or to request images, contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

OCAD University offers new undergraduate major in Aboriginal Visual Culture

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 4:00am

First of its kind in Canada, the Aboriginal Visual Culture Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts will begin enrolment in September 2013

(Toronto—October 11, 2012) Students considering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree have a new option available to them through OCAD University in Toronto. With enrolment starting in fall 2013, the institution now offers an interdisciplinary degree in Aboriginal Visual Culture that combines contemporary Aboriginal aesthetic and social studies with a comprehensive studio-based art education.

"Our new degree program is a major milestone among a series of initiatives we have developed over the last several years that address Indigenous culture and context at OCAD U," said Bonnie Devine, Founding Chair of OCAD U's Aboriginal Visual Culture Program. "Our work has involved creating an Aboriginal student centre and support services, as well as building our curriculum, including a minor."

Combining practice-specific and interdisciplinary studio courses in the Faculty of Art and the Faculty of Design with concentrations from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the visual, cultural, social and political history of Aboriginal peoples, the curriculum is designed to develop students' critical, creative and practical expertise in Aboriginal cultural and artistic practices.

"This program is the first of its kind in Canada, especially when considering Aboriginal culture within the spectrum of art and design education," said Kathryn Shailer, Dean of OCAD U's Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies. "It gives students with an interest in Aboriginal issues and practices a degree program that allows them to develop their skills and knowledge, and will graduate students who will be thoughtful contributors to these concerns.

Also new next fall will be an Augmented OCAD U First Year Program for Aboriginal Students, delivered at Laurentian University in Sudbury. "Our Aboriginal Education Council set a priority for us to develop a program where students from Ontario's north can attend a full first-year program at a location roughly midway between their home communities and OCAD U's main campus in Toronto," said Devine. "Our goal is to create an environment for success, and this program will help with the challenges students experience in transitioning to the south. We're very pleased to be working with Laurentian, an institution with a well-developed support system for Aboriginal students that is committed to their success."

The new BFA in Aboriginal Visual Culture will be celebrated with a Symposium and Pow Wow on Tuesday, October 16 at OCAD University. All are invited to these free events. The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and the Pow Wow takes place in the afternoon, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Prospective students can apply for the Aboriginal Visual Culture BFA program now through the Ontario Universities Application Centre for the 2013/14 academic year.


Augmented OCAD U First Year Program for Aboriginal Students at Laurentian University
In an effort to improve access to art and design education for students at home in north-central and northern Ontario, OCAD University has collaborated with Laurentian University to create a full first-year program that will be delivered on the Laurentian University campus in Sudbury.

Although the students recruited for and admitted to this transition program will be OCAD U students, Laurentian students will also have access to the studio and visual culture that OCAD U will deliver in Sudbury. OCAD U students will have access to Laurentian's two-semester transition course for Aboriginal students.

Overall, the Augmented First-Year Program will assist Aboriginal students in negotiating university-level studies and ease the transition from small northern Ontario communities to urban living, first in a midsize and then in a major urban centre.

About OCAD University (OCAD U)
OCAD University is Canada's "university of imagination." The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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Download this release as a PDF document.

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)