Aanii, Kwe, Tansi, She:kon, Boozhoo.

Welcome.

 

As part of the Indigenous Creative Spaces Project, a total of seven in-person and virtual Community Gatherings took place across Ontario from August 2021 to February 2022 focused on the topics of developing, managing, and sustaining Indigenous creative spaces. 

As a way to empower self-determination, the project formulated an Indigenous Advisory Circle of members of each community who guide and oversee the sharing of this knowledge and these stories. 

Supported by ArtsBuild Ontario (ABO), the project has endeavored to gather a framework of knowledge and experience within a cultural context, and determine needs and recommendations for infrastructure development across the ecology of these varying locations.

 

The Community Gatherings were hosted in-person and virtually in the following communities:

  • Friday’s Point (Temagami/Bear Island)

  • Kingston

  • Manitoulin Island

  • North Bay

  • Six Nations of the Grand River

  • Thunder Bay

  • Toronto

 

The Community Gatherings offer an opportunity for Indigenous artists, community members, and/or arts organizations to come together and speak to the existence, and in some places non-existence, of Indigenous creative spaces across the province, and what is needed to foster this development. The Indigenous Advisory Circle and ABO collaboratively developed a series of questions framed around large themes to best expose the unique needs of each community. The communities were brought together to discuss creative space in relation to regional arts practices, to highlight trends, to share ideas, to network, and vision forward. Each Community Gathering covered the following topics:

 

Welcome and Introductions: Conversations began with a cultural opening and welcome from the host community, then introductions of all those around the room. Where folks talked about their artistic and cultural journeys, dialogue around the circles included a range of how current artistic spaces are utilized, and if those in the circle at present own or manage an artistic space.

Visioning and managing creative space: Questions addressed each community’s vision of  sovereign and self-determining creative spaces for Indigenous artists; what is needed to achieve the vision, successes, and challenges that Indigenous creators and/or communities experience in relation to the spaces currently maintained, and if Indigenous creators are currently engaged in managing, adapting, renovating or building a creative space. 

Developing & sustaining creative spaces: These questions prompted discussions on what is Indigenous creative space, how more creative/cultural spaces can be developed and made sustainable in each community, as well as the long-term vision for activating, managing, and/or owning spaces. 

Next steps: Each conversation concluded with group discussions to vision next steps for each Community Gathering Circle, as well as foster community networks and momentum.

With each conversation, new ideas were presented around the larger themes of designing, developing, managing, and sustaining Indigenous creative spaces.