Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy

Tue September 21 - Fri February 25, 2022
Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy

Arts Commons Presents
The +15 Galleries

Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy
Artists: Sam Bighetty, Tania Big Plume, Amber Boyd, Autumn Cavender-Wilson, Chantal Chagnon, Tamara Eaker, Karlee Fellner, Saila Kilabuk, Sandra Lamouche, Maryanne Lindberg, Chandra Maracle, Alexandra Nelson, Stephanie One Spot, Sable Sweetgrass, Sheila Toderian, Autumn Whiteway (Night Singing Woman)

Location: The +15 Galleries 

3D Virtual Tour

Inspired by the recent birth of curator Autumn Whiteway’s son, this exhibition explores the timeless and timely subject of motherhood and matriarchy through an Indigenous lens. Colonialism has profoundly interfered with matriarchal systems and traditional child rearing practices. Despite this, Indigenous women display a fierce resilience; providing strength to our communities, reclaiming and maintaining traditions, and passing on wisdom for the generations to come. This exhibition brings together the artwork of 16 Indigenous artists of diverse artistic practices and backgrounds from across Turtle Island. -Autumn Whiteway (Night Singing Woman)


Autumn Whiteway (Night Singing Woman), Saulteaux/Métis
Autumn Whiteway (“Night Singing Woman”) is a Saulteaux/Métis visual artist, traditional craftworker, curator and archaeologist based in Calgary. As an archaeologist, she has always been curious about the material culture produced by her ancestors, in addition to traditional knowledge passed down through the generations. This curiosity led her on a path of discovery, to learn many different types of traditional Indigenous crafts. Inspired by artists such as Norval Morrisseau and Kent Monkman, she additionally explores Indigenous themes from a contemporary perspective through painting and photography. Her painting and digital art is primarily focused on the heavily symbolic Woodland Style of art. Her photography, on the other hand, is used as a form of activism to highlight Indigenous issues. Her curatorial work has included three exhibitions dedicated to Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy, in addition to “From the Land: Indigenous Ecological Art for a New Era”. She currently curates the Artist of the Month for Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society. 

Miriam Fabijan
Exhibition Coordinator
Miriam Fabijan is a Calgary based artist, curator, arts administrator and creative facilitator. In the past five years, Miriam has become involved in several Indigenous-lead projects; lending her support and expertise to projects with Making Treating 7 Cultural Society and Tsuut’ina Nation. 

Miriam is the Exhibition Coordinator for the “Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy” exhibition series, working alongside Indigenous Curator, Autumn Whiteway (Night Singing Woman) from concept to realization. She is deeply honoured to be able to work with so many beautiful and talented Indigenous artists, to learn from them, and to be able to play a role in helping them share their amazing creations and stories. She is especially grateful for her partnership with Autumn and Arts Commons in producing this 3rd Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy exhibition.

Karlee Fellner
Cree/Métis, Métis Nation of Alberta 
ᒥᔪᑌᐦ ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ miyotehiskwew (Good Hearted Woman) katoyiis akii (Sweet Pine Woman) Karlee Fellner is Cree/Métis and grew up just outside of Edmonton, about an hour from her grandmother’s scrip land was issued. Karlee is a professor and provisional psychologist by trade, and began painting with acrylics in 2015 as a form of therapy and medicine. In 2019, she began to produce professional pieces in order to share this medicine and healing with others. Her artworks come to her in dreams and other moments of quiet, and are inspired by a combination of Cree and Métis beadwork and imagery that emerges through her personal and spiritual experiences. Her images often include cultural teachings from her Elders and the ceremonies she participates in and assists with. Karlee is an Associate Professor of Counselling Psychology Indigenous Education at the University of Calgary, and is founder and CEO of maskihkiy wellness ( Karlee’s academic and clinical work focuses on Indigenous approaches to wellness, including the traditional and contemporary. Karlee believes that each individual, family, and community has the medicine they need to live full, healthy lives, and this belief is at the core of all that she does, from her therapeutic work to her community-driven program development work to her art work. Karlee had her first baby in September 2020, and this new life and her experiences in pregnancy, birth, and motherhood have been the inspiration for the life giver series featured in this exhibit. You can find Karlee's work on instagram and Facebook at miyotehiskwew art. 

ᐊᒐᐦᑯᐢ ᐊᐋᐧᓯᐢ - acâhkos awâsis - star child by Karlee Fellner

Maryanne Lindberg
Métis, Métis Nation, British Columbia (MNBC) 
Maryanne Lindberg is a Métis artist born and raised in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. She has been drawing and interested in portraiture since her parents bought her a chalkboard at 3 year of age. Being an Indigenous Artist and a Mother are the most important things in her life, so they are often depicted in her artwork. She has lived in Vancouver for many years and looks forward to marrying her Cree fiancé in the near future.

Sheila Toderian
Métis, Métis Nation of Alberta
Sheila Toderian is a self-taught Métis Artist, living in Brooks, Alberta. Her work consists of pen-(Pointillism), oil and acrylic on subjects of animals, landscapes and portraits. The moment her children were born, there was a love that she had never experienced before. She remembers holding her first boy, moments after he was born, thinking, how in the world will she know what to do if he cries. Totally terrified, but the moment he cried, something instinctively took over and she knew what to do.

Amber Boyd
Métis, Métis Nation of Alberta
Amber is a Métis artist and writer who resides in Cochrane, Alberta, with her two children and husband. She first started painting with acrylics in high school and has been experimenting with different techniques ever since. Over the years, she’s sketched, painted, and embroidered works of art but eventually gravitated toward the pen and began writing. She is currently working towards her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and is a number one Amazon best-selling author. While she has a passion for storytelling, she still finds time to bead, draw, sew, and paint whenever she can.

Sam Bighetty
Woodland Cree, Pukatawagan First Nation, Manitoba 
Sam Bighetty is Woodland Cree from Pukatawagan First Nation, MB, although he now calls Calgary home. He started drawing when he was 14 years old and has been painting since he was 20. He comes from a long line of family artists, and grew up watching other family members drawing and painting before trying it himself. His older brother Peter Bighetty recognized Sam's talent with drawing and was instrumental in helping him learn to paint. He works in ink or acrylic depicting animals, warriors and instruments filled with scenery, all in brilliant colours. Every painting contains symbolism to honour women, to recognize a life well lived or a life of hardship and spirituality. Sam has participated in many shows in Alberta, Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto. He produces commissions, such as designs for tattoos, clothing including the design for a 2017 t-shirt for Canada 150 and was the illustrator for a comic book. One of his pieces was featured in Colouring it Forward 2018 Indigenous Art Calendar. Sam also collaborated with an author Joey Podlubny on a book about reconciliation The Spiritual Journey Within the Four Directions of Reconciliation. Sam loves the way people react to his paintings. It makes him very happy to give them that enjoyment.

Alexandra Nelson
Ojibway, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation
A twenty-six year old Indigenous Mother of one from Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Alexandra Nelson, resides in Treaty One Territory. Always in love with each new day, painfully optimistic and truly encouraged by Indigenous artists.

Chantal Chagnon
Cree/Ojibwe/Métis, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation 
Chantal is a Cree Ojibwe Métis Singer, Drummer, Artist, Storyteller, Actor, Educator, Workshop Facilitator, Social Justice Advocate and Activist with roots in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan. She shares Traditional Indigenous Songs, Stories, Culture, History, Arts, and Teachings. Chantal has presented at Conferences, Conventions, Galas, Fundraisers, Community, Social Justice Events and in Classrooms from Preschool through University. Chantal aims to entertain, engage, enlighten, educate, and inspire everyone she meets. 

A single mother of two boys, and adopted twin girls, she understands societal struggle first hand. Chantal has been an activist, advocate for her community, professional performer and a staunch crusader for causes close to her heart. She is active within many social justice causes, including Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW), Women’s Rights, and Environmental Initiatives. She regularly organizes events and shares, singing, drumming, speaking, presenting, and teaching within the community, with a focus on building allies and alliances. Chantal Chagnon is passionate about building awareness and sharing understanding of Indigenous culture, spirituality, social justice and political issues. She creates opportunities for cooperation, education, and empowerment everywhere she can. 

Chantal recognizes sharing culture and building community is an integral part of building bridges of understanding and acceptance. Chantal is a compassionate woman, who believes that a healthier, fairer, more sustainable Canada is possible as we make decisions for future generations to come.

Sandra Lamouche
Cree, Bigstone Cree Nation 
Sandra Lamouche is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation currently living in Southern Alberta, Treaty 7 territory. She is currently completing an M.A. thesis in Indigenous Dance and Well Being. She is a champion hoop dancer, award-winning Indigenous educational leader, two-time TEDx Speaker, writer, artist, choreographer and dancer. Her interdisciplinary approach to art and work comes from her degree in Native Studies where she studied Native writing, art, law, history and politics. 

Tania Big Plume
Tsuut’ina/Cree, Tsuut’ina Nation 
My name is Tania Big Plume from Tsuut'ina. My mother is Tsuut'ina and Cayuga of the Turtle Clan. My father is Cree from Saddle Lake. I have always resided on a reservation, which was like having a very large family. I was trained very young to bead by my Isuu (grandmother- Tsuut'ina), and my aunties and friends. I've been beading over 37 years now, and it is my livelihood. The wonderful women who taught me, also gave me strength, wisdom, love, hope, and courage to be a proud Native woman. I love sharing the knowledge I learned with others so it won't be forgotten. The artwork I make, is really the artwork of all of the great women in life. 

Saila Kilabuk
Inuit, Nunavut 
Originally a child of the land from the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut. Saila Kilabuk has drifted west and is now an urban Inuk in Calgary. A single mother of twins, and an artist. Her art is an escape from the modern demands of city life, and at the same time a longing for reconnection with her past and culture. Every brush stroke evokes the power of her ancestors, and she paints symbolic images that transcend urban modernity and revitalize the spirit of the north. Her work is a kind of artistic alchemy where she mixes paint with pain. Through art, she converts trauma and emotional hardships into the beautiful. Saila dives deep into the emotional content of her life experience, and emerges with inspiration for all who feel the desire to create. Saila Kilabuk says she is "a proud Inuk who wants to show the world that beauty can come from hardships and pain.” 

Autumn Cavender-Wilson
Wahpetunwan Dakota, Pezihutazizi K’api (Upper Sioux Community) 
Wicanhpi Iyotan Win (Autumn Cavender-Wilson) is a Wahpetunwan Dakota midwife, artist, and activist from Pezihutazizi K’api (Upper Sioux Community). Drawing on her experiences as a mother and birth worker, her artwork frequently centers on birth, motherhood, and the honoring of these newly arrived souls. While she began her art practice apprenticing with master quillworkers, Autumn explores digital mediums using traditional Dakota methodologies and aesthetics. 

Stephanie One Spot
Tsuut’ina, Tsuut’ina Nation 
Stephanie One Spot is an emerging Indigenous Artist from the Sarcee (Tsuu Tina) First Nation. She is in her third-year studies at the Alberta University of the Arts. One Spot has partnered with school art programs which are themed on reconciliation. With the help and support from community partners and the University of Calgary, she has been able to help bridge relationships with Calgary school systems and the TsuuTina Nation. She has also been involved in the Tsuut’ina Nation Nihisgaka Ogha – For Our Children initiative series. She has been featured by Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, in both of Making Treaty 7’s Annual Indigenous Art Exhibition and as an Artist of the month for May 2021. Her work has been featured on the book cover, Before This Usual Time-A collection of Indigenous Stories, Poems and Art.

One Spot is constantly inspired by her home life, culture and family. She explores memories, time and place through her photographs, paintings and digital Artworks. She is a Mother of 2 boys, Daughter, Sister, Aunty and loving grand-daughter. This exhibition is important for her, as mother-hood and Matriarchy not only delves into the roles and responsibilities she has in her life as a woman, but also the consideration of the meaning in a family unit and external world. Siyisgaas (Thank you). 

Son Rise by Stephanie One Spot

Chandra Maracle
Kanyenkeha:ka/Mohawk Nation 
Chandra F. Maracle is originally from Buffalo’s west side and is mother of four daughters. She studied at SUNY Cortland College, University at Buffalo, NY and University of Salamanca, Spain. She has worked as Youth Leader at Native American Community Services in Buffalo, Graduate Assistant in Native American Studies at University at Buffalo and Cultural Resource Specialist at the Native American Magnet School #19. She was a Diversity Educator with the National Conference for Community and Justice, co-founder of the Indigenous Women’s Initiatives and has certifications in Eating Psychology, Massage, Reiki and Yoga. Chandra is co-founder of Skaronhyase’ko:wa Tyohterakentko:wa tsi Yontaweya’tahkwa/the Everlasting Tree School at Six Nations and initiated the school’s nutrition program – Tyonnhehkwen Onkwaya’takenha:tshera. She was a collaborator on the Healthy Roots committee at Six Nations and developed the Haudenosaunee Food Guide for the Community Challenge. Chandra is founder of Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food, exploring links between people, food, mothering, homemaking, art, language, technology and land.

She is a graduate of the Onkwawen:na Kentyohkwa adult Mohawk language immersion program, and is currently a PhD student at York University in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Chandra is a Collaborator on The Earth to Tables Legacies Project, a group of intergenerational and intercultural folks transforming the food system. Chandra was a recipient of the 1997 Native American Women’s Recognition Award from the Friends of Ganondagan. She has shown artwork at the Woodland Cultural Centre First Nations Art Show, done a collaborative art installation and presentation at the Xpace Gallery in Toronto entitled, “Reimagining Colonial Relationships Through Artistic Process,” and led a workshop at the Six Nations Birthing Centre, “Expressing Yourself in Pregnancy Through Artistic Bodycasting.” Chandra was recently recognized as a Changemaker and showed work for an exhibit at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. She lives on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. 

Sable Sweetgrass
Blackfoot Confederacy, Kainai Nation 
Sable Sweetgrass is a member of the Kainai Nation, born and raised in Calgary/Mohkinstsis. Sable is a storyteller/playwright. Sable has been an active member in the Calgary Indigenous community working for organizations such as the Calgary Friendship Centre, Making Treaty 7, The Glenbow Museum. She is a founding member of the Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth (USAY) and volunteered for The Glenbow Museum, Calgary Aboriginal Arts Awareness Society and the NativeStudent Centre at the U of C. She is a graduate of the English/Creative Writing program at the University of Calgary and received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2006 Sable won 1st place in the Canadian Aboriginal Arts - Story Writing Contest. She has written and performed on stage for Making Treaty 7 and created a short film titled IPOWAHSIN AT HOME. Sable’s day job is helping other artists in Calgary apply for grants as the Specialist of Indigenous Programs at Calgary Arts Development. 

Tamara Eaker
Tamara Eaker is an Indigenous visual artist, based out of Calgary, Alberta. She applies her training in Graphic Design and Art History to her work with acrylics, woods, beads, photography, and fabrics. Her work exemplifies her two main passions: reclaiming her lost Ojibwe and Cree heritage, and advocating for improved mental wellness, battling barriers caused by Intergenerational trauma. 

In the process of her creations, she has made a safe space for learning and connecting to traditional Indigenous teachings and ways of knowing. Her art is a platform for storytelling and emotional vulnerability. Through her work, she connects to the spiritual power of nature, speaks of the hard truths of Indigenous peoples, and shares the light of knowledge. It is her Artistic goal to inform and inspire, and to help navigate the paths of reconciliation, on both sides of the divide.

Mother Earth's Unlost Moss Bags by Tamara Eaker

(between the Hub and admin offices of ATP and Theatre Calgary)