Lead Youth Outreach Coordinator Lucille Atlookan is an Anishnawbe-iquay, Lakehead University student and emerging artist from Eabametoong First Nation (Fort Hope, ON), now residing in Thunder Bay. Atlookan recently completed the Native Access Program at Lakehead University (LU). Her goal is to pursue in Visual Arts and Education. She works predominately in acrylic painting and beading, and has been influenced by her uncle Angus Atlookan and the late Lorne Shawinimash. She also credits her fellow artist, friend and Neechee Studio Youth Outreach Liaison partner Matilda Suganaqueb. Moreover, Atlookan is member of Definitely Superior Art Gallery’s Die Active Youth Art Collective and is the one of the founding members of Neechee Studio.
Assistant Youth Outreach Coordinator 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.
Program Coordinator 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 Outreach Liaison Blake Evans is a non-indigenous emerging interdisciplinary artist from Bayfield Ontario, who is studying Visual Arts at Lakehead University. Blake focuses on creating art works from natural mediums or recycled objects to shed light on the environmental impacts of an artist’s practice. Blake has collaborated with other Neechee Studio members to synthesize the worldviews of Indigenous and settler youth through art. A collaborative piece created with fellow Lakehead Visual Arts student Mary McPherson was chosen as a winner in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Youth Banner Art Contest for Canada’s sesquicentennial. Since 2015 Blake has attended Neechee Studio workshops to expand his knowledge on Indigenous arts and teachings from which he transfers skills into his studies. He is member of several youth art collectives under Definitely Superior Art Gallery including Neechee Studio, Die Active, and INvisible Ink.
Program Coordinator 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.
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 Liason Riley Yesno (19) is an Eabametoong First Nation woman living in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she attends high school. Riley was recently appointed as one of 30 youth members of the Prime Ministers Youth Council. She is a strong leader who uses her voice to represent those who are underrepresented. She is a highly engaged community member and as a school board representative at the provincial level, she advocates on behalf of her peers. As a First Nations woman who has lived on reserve, she is most passionate about equity for Indigenous people in Canada, and arts and culture. Riley has received numerous awards for her hard work including the highest average in her highschool, a Saint Patrick High School Visual Arts Award, Saint Patrick High School Dramatic Arts Award and the Paul Martin Initiative Youth Mentor award.
Youth Outreach Liason Nathaniel Roundhead is from a reservation called Eabametoong First Nation; 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 in reality. Neechee is important to him because it allows him to spend time with his cousin Lucille and gets him closest to the arts core. “Neechee is pretty important to me, I get to do something throughout the evening and I also get to meet some great people.”
Youth Outreach Liason Savanna Boucher is from Nezaadiikang FN (LDML). She has been a Neechee Studio Committee member for 3 years. Savanna has acquired an Aboriginal Community Advocacy diploma from Confederation College and is in her third year of Indigenous Learning while minoring in Political Science at Lakehead University. She has worked with youth for the last three years and loves to share her knowledge through teaching native and contemporary arts and crafts.
Youth Outreach Liason Annemarie Demerah is a Neechee Studio Committee member and volunteers with the Lakehead University Student Union’s Aboriginal Awareness Centre. She works with the youth in her community teaching traditional crafts, legends and story-telling. She helps youth to make a positive contribution to their community and develop skills and talents though the process of building wigwams and a canoe. Annemarie is from Fort William First Nation.
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.
Youth Outreach Liaison Mary McPherson is a band member of Couchiching FN. She is an emerging artist studying Visual Arts and Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University. Mary creates art to explore her Indigenous ancestry as well understand her place as a mixed Ojibwa-Irish woman in Canadian society. Mary’s proudest achievements was being awarded 1st place (junior category) by Aboriginal Arts and Stories for her drawing, “Cross Assimilation”, and as a result, being awarded a Governor General History Award at Rideau Hall the following fall. Mary has been attending Neechee Studio workshops since 2016 and thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to meet new people in her community through the arts.
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 Liaison Cynthia Edwards is an Indigenous artist and student teacher from Animkee Wazhing #37 – Windigo Island located on Lake of the Woods, Ontario. She is in her 3rd year at Lakehead University in the Honours Bachelor of Native Education program with a specialization in working with Indigenous youth. Her compassion stems into helping and inspiring other Indigenous students to use contemporary and traditional art as a way to teach, learn, and heal which was inspired by her grandmothers, community, and having used art as a tool to deal with culture shock and homesickness. Cynthia also helps run a small local design business ‘Edward5’ with her younger sister that uses digital media, collage, beadwork, painting, and organic materials from the land that incorporates humor and indigenous flare for fun.
Adult Mentor Corporal Marc H. Bohemier has been a member of the RCMP for over 25 years and is currently a retired Corporal in Thunder Bay. In May 2003 Marc began working in the Aboriginal Policing Section and has travelled extensively in Ontario’s far north working closely with Aboriginal peoples, organizations and communities developing and delivering a wide range of proactive community based initiatives. During his career he has worked in uniformed policing, Federal Enforcement, Commercial Crime and Drug Enforcement sections. His proudest and most rewarding professional achievement has been to be one of the co-creators of the highly successful Neechee Studio. Marc has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology/political studies, has recently completed a certificate in Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University and is currently completing his Masters in the same program.