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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Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 7:00pm

Tuesday January 24th, 7pm
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street, 
Room 190, Auditorium

Post Screening discussion with Director Michelle St. John and Monique Mojica

In towns throughout Ontario, there are startling reminders of the colonization of Indigenous territories and the displacement of First Nations people. Anishinaabe comedian and activist Ryan McMahon takes us to his hometown of Fort Francis and down its main drag, which is called Colonization Road. Similar streets have similar names in towns and cities across the province, direct reminders of the little-known Colonization Roads Act of 1872 and its severe impact on First Nations, their treaties and their land in the name of “Canadian settlement.” On his journey through Ontario, McMahon explores the history of these roads, meets with settlers in solidarity and raises significant questions about “reconciliation” and what it means to “decolonize.”

CULTURE SHIFTS is a documentary series at OCAD University. Culture Shifts presents documentary media as a catalyst for critical discussions and community action for social change.

The series has the support of Art and Social Change, Indigenous Visual Culture, the Faculty of Art and the Integrated Media Program


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street Room 190, Auditorium
image of speaker with text details

starving listening, hungry looking, a public talk by: Dylan Robinson

starving, listening, hungry, looking.  yellow text on grey background
Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 9:00pm

Dr. Dylan Robinson is a Stó:lō scholar who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University, located on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. His recent publications include: Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016) and Opera Indigene (Ashgate Press, 2011).

This event is sponsored by the Faculty of Art Innovation Fund

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 100 McCaul Street, Room 544
Free and Open to the Public
starving listening, hungry looking, a public talk by: Dylan Robinson_poster with text and headshot of Dylan Robinson


Monday, June 16, 2008 - 4:00am to Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - 4:00am

In a sculptural collaboration, Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero use ice to make an artwork melted over the duration of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s CASHRA conference. A large block of ice signifies a life-size form, the body absent, as evidence that it too will disappear. This work symbolically suggested the frozen land of Canada in winter. To be left outside for too long is to die.

last seen alive in police custody
under the influence
found 5 days later frozen to death in a field
wearing one shoe
marks on his body likely caused by handcuffs

aboriginal teenage boy
dropped off and walking to where?

In memory of Neil Stonechild (1973-1990)

This is the second installation of Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero’s temporal sculpture, Freeze. An anti-monument, its power relies on the memories and associations that linger well beyond the physical fact of its disappearance. As ice melts into air over the two days of the human rights conference, the aspiration is that the weight of oppression, personal and systemic, begins to evaporate as well.

Multidisciplinary artists Rebecca Belmore (Anishinabe) and Cuban-born artist Osvaldo Yero currently live and work in Vancouver.

Rebecca Belmore, who represented Canada at the 2005 Venice Biennale, has long been creating work about the plight of the disenfranchised and marginalized in society. In her poignant and dramatic performances, the artist's own body becomes the site of historical, cultural and political investigations as she explores the world of myth and community, boundaries between public and private, chaos and linear narrative.

Osvaldo Yero is best known for dealing with the vernacular culture and political climate of his homeland by incorporating emblems of religion, sexuality, nationalistic crests and symbols in his work with irony and affection.

The installation Freeze is a public art project of the convenience curatorial collective.

Support of the Ontario Human Rights Commission is gratefully acknowledged.

Venue & Address: 
Niagara College Courtyard, Main Building, Niagara-on-the-lake Campus, Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

OCAD University acknowledges the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabe and the Huron-Wendat, who are the orignal owners and custodians of the land on which we stand

Criticism and Curatorial Practice Alumna, Lisa Myers, AGO Artist-in-Residence

Criticism and Curatorial Practice Alumnae, Lisa Myers, AGO Artist-in-Residence
Friday, September 18, 2015 - 4:00am

Lisa Myers' (MFA '11) work as an artist is influenced by the many years she worked as a cook and by her family stories and history from the Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario regions. She grew up on a farm in Milton and is of Anishinaabe ancestry from Shawanaga and Beausoleil First Nation. Lisa experiments with walking and cooking as ways to think through the ideas in her work. She uses a range of media and materials including printmaking, sewn structures, film and surfaces often involving video projections, audio and the assemblage of materials such as food, seeds, canvas and beads. The tactile nature of working with these materials is similar to the creative process of cooking. Each ingredient has a story and its origin or cultivation contributes to the meal, as do the materials that Lisa brings together in her artwork. In addition to being an artist, Lisa is a curator, musician and chef. Lisa earned her Master of Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. She has exhibited her work in venues including Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), Peterborough Art Gallery (Peterborough), MacLaren Art Centre (Barrie), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). Lisa works and lives in Port Severn and Toronto, Ontario.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Criticism and Curatorial Practice Graduate Program

OCAD University mourns the passing of Joshua Peltier

Joshua Peltier
Friday, May 22, 2015 - 1:15pm

A former OCAD University student and a leader in the indigenous arts community, Joshua (Josh) Peltier passed away on April 20, 2015, in Sudbury, Ontario. Peltier was enrolled in the Faculty of Art from 1998 to 2003. Not long after completing his studies, he returned home to the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, where he swiftly became a highly regarded painter, sculptor, educator, theatre director, actor and storyteller.

Since 2008, Peltier served as the head of the Visual Arts department at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre in Manitowaning, a community across the bay from Wikwemikong. The facility, opened by the Debajehmujig Storytellers in 2009, is a multidisciplinary creation, production and training centre. Peltier’s responsibilities included curating the centre’s gallery, as well as writing and directing theatre productions.

In addition to his work with the Debajehmujig Creation Centre, Peltier was also a member of The Global Savages. As part of this five-person group, Peltier helped to spread awareness in Canada and internationally of traditional Anishnaabe history, culture and traditions.

The OCAD University community extends sincere condolences to Peltier’s family, friends and community.

Reading the Talk

mage: Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Relationship or Transaction, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Saturday September 20, 2014 to Sunday January 4, 2015

Co-curated by Lisa Myers and Rachelle Dickenson

Welcome Gathering September 20, 1-3 p.m.
This celebratory event invites everyone to gather and welcome the creators of Reading the Talk to this region. The celebration will include a discussion with the exhibition’s artists and curators, followed by the
sharing of food. Everyone welcome.

Reading the Talk 20 September 2014 – 4 January, 2015
Reading the Talk presents the artwork of 6 contemporary Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee artists and how these works engage in critical conversations about relationship to lands, region and territory, while considering distinct indigenous perspectives on the history of treaties in this land now referred to as Canada. Featured artists: Michael Belmore, Hannah Claus, Patricia Deadman, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, and Melissa General.

Also check out:

RMG Fridays 3 October, 7-10 p.m.
Nutshell Tour with Reading the Talk Guest Curator Lisa Myers

Reading the Talk – Special Art Enrichment Program for Schools with a focus on the New Ontario Social Studies Curriculum
22 September – 19 December, 2014
JK- Gr.12

Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 12 to 4 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Civic Centre 72 Queen Street Oshawa, Ontario
905-576-3000 x 108

Bonnie Devine’s Battle for the Woodlands on view at the AGO

Bonnie Devine with her installation. Image courtesy AGO.
Bonnie Devine's Battle for the Woodlands in the gallery. Image courtesy AGO.

Bonnie Devine, an associate professor and the founding chair of OCAD U’s Indigenous Visual Culture program, spent part of her summer installing a new work, Battle for the Woodlands, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The installation expands an early 19th century map of Upper and Lower Canada to reflect an Anishinaabe world view. 

Battle for the Woodlands will be on view at the AGO for a year, and is an extension of the AGO’s major temporary summer exhibition, Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, which features work by leading modern and contemporary artists, including Norval Morrisseau, Michael Belmore, Daphne Odjig, OCAD U instructor Robert Houle, and others. Before and After the Horizon opened on July 30 and runs until November 25.

Before and After the Horizon is co-organized by the AGO and the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s a celebration of visual expressions of the spiritual and social dimensions of our relations with the earth, and at the same time challenges certain accepted accounts of history. 

Devine, whose work “Letter to William,” is part of the temporary exhibition, was talking with Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s curator for Canadian Art, about a historic map of upper and lower Canada and what it meant one day earlier this year when she came up with the idea to overlay an Anishinaabe vision over the map to show the four great lakes represented as spirit animals, as well as the important sites of conflict and contact between European and Anishinaabe people. 

Hunter saw the idea as an opportunity to both respond to and extend the ideas of the temporary exhibition through the rest of the gallery and spark conversations. As part of the installation process, Devine worked in the gallery during viewing hours so she could engage with viewers and answer questions. 

“Devine’s installation has accomplished a great deal, and at the same time resulted in endless intense and meaningful conversations with the public, guests and officials in the gallery,” said Hunter. “The goal for us with projects like this to create a deep engagement, not only between the AGO and OCAD U, but also with this place and the land — the deep human history and our part of our community. It challenges the institution to learn, change and grow.”


Learn more

Before and After the Horizon 

Bonnie Devine image timeline 

Bonnie Devine faculty biography 


Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes

Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 4:00am to Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 5:00am

Featuring OCAD U community members

For more than 12,000 years, the Great Lakes region has produced a distinct culture of Anishinaabe artists and storytellers. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates those artists and stories this summer with Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, featuring artworks by leading modern and contemporary artists -- including Norval Morrisseau, OCAD U Associate Professor Bonnie Devine, retired OCAD U faculty member Robert Houleas, Michael Belmore, Daphne Odjig and others -- who sought to visually express the spiritual and social dimensions of human relations with the earth.

The traditional home of the Anishinaabe peoples -- comprised of Algonquin, Mississauga, Nippissing, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), Potawatomi and Saulteaux nations -- the region includes Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec in addition to eight U.S. states and has inspired generations of stories and experiences that are spiritual, political and challenge certain accepted accounts of history. These same sources of inspiration are visible in traditional Anishinaabe arts included in the exhibition, including clan pictographs on treaty documents, bags embroidered with porcupine quill, painted drums and carved pipes, spoons and bowls.

Before and after the Horizon is co-organized by the AGO and the National Museum of the American Indian. It is curated by David Penney (NMAI) and Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree/Sisika First Nation). To celebrate this important exhibition, Andrew Hunter, the AGO's Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art,has organized a series of complementary interventions and installations to extend the dialogue into the AGO's own collection of Canadian art.

“This is a powerful exhibition that is very much about this place and its timeless connection to a distinct world view, one that continues to resonate with Anishinaabe,” said Hunter. “The AGO is situated in the very heart of traditional Anishinaabe territory, and we are honoured to position this exhibition as a catalyst for reimaging our sense of place and community, and to feature the ground-breaking work of a significant group of artists who have lived and work in this area.”

Bonnie Devine, a noted Objibwe artist and educator, will work with Hunter to transform one of the permanent collection galleries while Robert Houle (Saulteaux) will present a new installation entitled Seven Grandfathers in the AGO's Walker Court.

“This exhibition is a welcome opportunity to reconsider, through various political and aesthetic interventions by Anishinaabe artists, how Canadian art history has been traditionally presented at the AGO,” said Devine. “The Anishinaabe have continuously occupied the territory around the Great Lakes for at least 12,000 years, so a survey exhibition of contemporary Anishinaabe art is overdue.”

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Ontario 317 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario