Lead Youth Outreach Coordinator Lucille Atlookan Is an Anishnaabe emerging artist from Eabametoong First Nation (Fort Hope, ON), a remote community 360 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Atlookan is going into her fourth year in the HBFA/BEd double degree program at Lakehead University. Her goal is to pursue in Visuals and Education. She explores her cultural identity through drawing and sculpture. Atlookan is a co-founder of Neechee Studio, and a member of DefSup’s Die Active Art Collective.
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 Committee Member Blake Evans is a non-Indigenous emerging interdisciplinary artist from Bayfield Ontario holding an HBFA in Visual Arts from Lakehead University. Blake channels energy into creating art works from natural mediums, recycled objects, and drawing tools to shed light on the environmental impact humans have on the land. The energetic connections between medicinal plants and human beings are now inspiring Blake's current work. Collaborations with Neechee Studio artists allows for a growing synthesize of worldviews between Indigenous and settler youth through art. Since 2015 Blake has attended Neechee Studio workshops to expand his knowledge on Anishinaabe art styles and land teachings from which he integrates into his art and healing practise.
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.
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 Shelby Gagnon is an indigenous artist living in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is currently in the Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts at Lakehead University. Focusing on drawing painting and outside of classes she leads community engaged arts projects. Her recent involvement in Die Active began as member in 2016 and as leader in the summer of 2017, where she took on projects with youth and community murals. She is dedicated to learning and expanding her arts admin and coordination skills while also improving her spray painting, stenciling and graffiti techniques. She is now also a committee member of Neechee Studio Indigenous Youth Arts Collective, where she hopes to share her love of art, culture and community.
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.
Cynthia Edwards is an artist from Animkee Wazhing (was known as Northwest Angle #37 Lake Of The Woods Windigo Island) living in Thunder Bay, ON. She finished her Bachelor of Arts at Lakehead University and is interested in learning and speaking Anishinaabemowin and working in community art projects in the city.