Co-Founder & Program Coordinator Lucille Atlookan is an Anishnaabe from Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope, ON. Atlookan is an artist, working predominately with mixed media consisting of beads, leather and drawing that explores her cultural identity and personal trauma. The materials she uses help her feel connected to the land, and through her healing journey. What led her to further her education is starting up Neechee Studio, a free art program for Indigenous youth in 2013. Art motivates her to continue with her education, to better herself and community.
Co-Founder Matilda Suganaqueb is Anishinaabe from Webequie First Nation. She is a student at Confederation College and hopes to become a youth worker. Matilda works predominately in beading and was taught by her grandmother and aunties. Since 2012, her work, which consists of beaded lanyards, earrings and moccasin vamps, has been bought across the country and throughout the United States. She also has taught a number of youth on how to bead through workshops at Neechee Studio, and one on one beading sessions with friends. Matilda hopes to continue to teach more youth how to bead through Neechee studio.
Artistic Administrator Lora Northway is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, arts educator, and community arts coordinator based out of Thunder Bay. She received her HBFA in fine arts from Lakehead University and obtained a Certificate in Arts Education & Critical Youth Engagement from York University. She has been the recipient of several Ontario Arts Council grants, and was recently awarded the City of Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Award for Cultural Educator. Alongside her studio practice she is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Definitely Superior Artist Run Centre (Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts Winner, 2013), founder of the Die Active Graffiti Art Collective and co-creator of Neechee Studio. For 10+ years she has delivered countless workshops to community groups, specializing in DIY culture, zine making, and art activism. Most recently she developed and delivered a conference on “Youth Engagement and Arts Programming in the North”, for 20 Indigenous youth leaders from northern communities and gave a Tedx Talk on the importance of youth led creative production.
Financial Administrator Cree Stevens comes from mixed Native and European roots, but feels closest to her Mushkegowuk (Swampy Cree) and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) ancestries. With a post-secondary background in English and Education already under her belt, she is currently pursuing an honours degree in Fine Arts at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. She is a practicing multi-disciplinary artist who is passionate about fusing the historical and traditional art and culture of her ancestors into her avant-garde pieces. Cree’s focus is to work with Aboriginal peoples through her art. She is currently an artist with and committee member of Neechee Studio, Definitely Superior Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, which is a youth-led collective that provides free art workshops to Aboriginal youth in the region. Her love and passion for this collective is rooted in her belief that Aboriginal youth need a space to create, learn and feel safe in order to be successful. Creating art that communicates is what Cree is destined to accomplish – whether it be political, social, global, cultural, traditional, environmental, or personal. This is her way of paying respect to and honouring her ancestors as well as contributing a visual voice to the world she is part of today.
Youth Program Coordinator Shelby Gagnon is an Anishinaabe artist and member of Aroland First Nation, who grew up in Thunder Bay. Shelby is a graduate of Lakehead University in the Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts program where she explored culture and traditions of being an Indigenous woman in Canada. Through involvement with community engaged arts organizations and projects she uses multi-disciplinary mediums to express and share her holistic feelings. Through working with youth and other artists, she is dedicated to expanding her knowledge and contemporary take on traditional methods of art and healing practices for the community.
Youth Outreach Liason Savanna Boucher is from Nezaadiikang (Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation). She has been a Neechee Studio Committee member since 2014. Savanna has acquired an Aboriginal Community Advocacy diploma from Confederation College and is currently in her third year of the Honours Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Learning and Political Science) program at Lakehead University. She enjoys sharing her knowledge through the teachings of native and contemporary technologies.
Youth Outreach Liason Brandon Anderson is a post-secondary student enrolled in Welding at Confederation College. He is from Kasabonika Lake First Nation. Brandon is member of Neechee Studio's Youth Liason and has a passion for photography. Most recently Brandon completed work on a Neechee Studio mini-doc, working as director, filmographer and interviewee.
Youth Outreach Liaison "My name is Cynthia Edwards and I am a member of Animakee Wa Zhing #37, Treaty 3 on Lake of the Woods, ON and I am a committee member for Neechee Studio. My family is Loon Clan and my Indian name is Ningaabianong Ikwe. I am a self-taught artist and I have been working, collaborating, and volunteering with Neechee Studio for 3 years. I believe in the work Neechee Studio does in the City of Thunder Bay for Indigenous Youth. Neechee Studio creates fun, safe spaces for Indigenous and non-indigenous youth to create art and have fun and that is what I love about Neechee Studio."
Youth Outreach Liaison Mary McPherson is an Ojibwa artist and member of Couchiching First Nation. Growing up in Thunder Bay, Mary was heavily influenced by family stories and lived experiences that resulted with her expressing questions and concerns through art making. Passionate about the arts and education, Mary earned an HBFA in Fine Arts with a minor in Indigenous Learning from Lakehead University. Mary is currently attending law school at the University of Ottawa where she intends to learn as much as possible about how Canadian law impacts Aboriginal peoples.
Youth Outreach Liaison & Photographer Sarah McPherson is a photographer based in Thunder Bay, ON. She specializes in environmental portraiture, nature, fashion and event photography.
Youth Outreach Liason Riley Yesno is an Anishinaabe woman from Eabametoong First Nation who grew up in Thunder Bay, ON. She currently attends The University of Toronto where she is a President’s Scholar, and studies Indigenous Studies and Political Science. In 2017, Riley was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to provide advice to the Prime Minister and members of the federal government as well as help draft Canada's National Youth Policy. She has worked with Indigenous leaders across the country on a First Nation’s Self-Determination advisory board, and has spent the past two summers working with Nishnawbe Aski Nation under their executive council. Riley has written for major media outlets including Maclean’s and the Toronto Star, among others, where she primarily covers youth, and Indigenous issues. Riley has worked with Neechee Studios as a Youth Liaison since she was in high school.
Jayal Chung is a self-taught artist born and raised in Thunder Bay, ON. Her ancestors settled in Canada from China. From paints, pastels, zines, illustration, to spoken word poetry – making art is an expression of resistance, self-care, urgency, dreaming, community, and writing into existence. Her art and activism has focused on bringing people together, talking back to racism, colonialism and sexual violence. She is passionate about sharing her skills and supporting youth leadership.
Previous Committee Members
Adult Mentor Helen Pelletier is from Fort William First Nation and works as the Indigenous Programs and Services Coordinator for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services. Helen has volunteered, attended with her daughter, and led various Neechee Studio workshops since 2014. She became a committee member and Program Liaison in 2015.
Blake Evans is a non-Indigenous member of Neechee Studio. An emerging artist with an HBFA in Visual Arts from Lakehead U. Blake's artwork sheds light on his connection to plants and their fields of healing energy. Learning and integrating new world views outside of his family's perspective helps his practise to resonate compassionately. Active, compelled and self sustained through responsibility. Blake provides love and positive light when included into a circle. @naturalworks3
Nathaniel Roundhead is from a reservation called Eabametoong First Nation also known as Fort Hope, Ontario. He enjoys art because it can speak a thousand words and can do a lot of explaining no one could understand otherwise. Neechee Studio is important to him because it allows him to spend time with his cousin Lucille and gets him closest to the art expression. “Neechee is pretty important to me, I get to do something throughout the evening and I also get to meet some great people.”