Talks

Art in the Spotlight: Native Arts Society

Logo of the Native Art Society featuring a white illustrated polar bear with pink and blue accents against a black background, with Native Arts Society written in white letters in a ring around the polar bear

Logo of the Native Arts Society

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Talks

Art in the Spotlight: Native Arts Society

Thursday, August 12, 4 pm
Zoom

Join Nanook Gordon and Brianna Olson-Pitawanakwat, co-founders of Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction in conversation with the AGO’s Kathleen McLean about their work creating the Native Arts Society.

It is an Indigenous 2spirit led initiative featuring an art gallery and studio space for people to come to work on their art in a place rooted in harm reduction and free from judgment. Native Arts Society was inspired by "art days" which began in May 2020 at one of the encampments and on a street corner in Parkdale, Toronto. The expressive arts have been an incredibly important part of Fareal and Olson’s work and many of the Indigenous street folks they support are talented multimedia artists and come from a long line of Indigenous artists.

Nanook Gordon  is an actor, carver, and silk-screen printmaker who was born in Inuvik, Invialuit Settlement Region, NT, and who lives in Toronto, ON. After reconnecting with their mother and learning more about the intergenerational legacy of residential schools, they founded Feeding Canada, which sends food and other essentials to northern communities. Gordon began silk-screening t-shirts to raise money for the program. Gordon also founded the Intergenerational Survivor Project to capture the stories of those dealing with intergenerational residential school trauma, and co-founded Porcupine Warriors, which stages peaceful protests for increased land and water protections.

Brianna Olson-Pitawanakwat is a lifelong helper, diverse multi-media artist and member of Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation. For over a decade she has specialized in trauma informed care, harm reduction and artistic programming. Brianna carries Indigenous specializations with a Masters in Social Work through U of T and undergrad degree from University of Victoria. As a Jingle Dancer, beadwork and spoken word artist, she emphasizes sharing her gifts of Indigenous artistry and leadership with the community. Alongside teaching she serves as a Community Birthworker with Seventh Gen Midwives. She also channels her professional work through various initiatives across the country as co-founder of “Kwewok Nakii” Collective. Most recently she has also been a founding member of the Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction Collective lending critical support to the Indigenous houseless community in Toronto and aiding remote Indigenous communities across Turtle Island hit by outbreaks of Covid19. She currently serves as co-founder and coordinator of Native Arts Society with Nanook Gordon.

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