This discussion will be guided by Grandmother Renee. Grandmothers in our culture carry important teachings, messages, medicines, and knowledge. We are honoured Grandmother Renee will share her knowledge by guiding Her Moccasins Talk the dialogue with these strong women.
Kanate’hson/Elder Renee Thomas-Hill/Grandmother Renee
Grandmother Renee was born into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Grand River Territory.
She honours her lineage, Mother- Cayuga Bear & that of her Father Mohawk Turtle.
As a Haudenosaunee woman, her role in life is a Carrier of our Heritage
- Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother & auntie to many
- Educator, Historian, Lecturer/Teacher, Wisdom Keeper
- Cultural Consultant
- Elder at :
- McMaster University – Indigenous Student Program – ISP, Indigenous Students Health Science ISHS
- Six Nations Polytech/Brantford Campus
- IDHC- Indigenous Diabetes Healing Circle
- De dwa da dehs nye s – Aboriginal Health Centre of Brantford & Hamilton
- Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres-OFIFC
- Dodem Kanonhsa- Toronto Indigenous Cultural Facility
- Traditional Wellness Councillor (Addictions)
- Story Teller
“Our people were instructed in the “Great Law” from which gave us “Peace Power & Righteousness, (the sacredness of being and Original Being.” This is our original instructions to the pathway of “Skennen-Peace.”
Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist with a deep respect for Mother Earth, the traditions and the knowledge of her people. Her Michif ancestry is from Manitou Sākahîkan (Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta). In addition to her paintings she is also known as a community based artist, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples, and a language learner and student of the plants. She is currently a lead organizer for the Onaman Collective which focuses on resurgence of language and land based practices. She is also part of a community collective building Nimkii Aazhibikong, a year round land based language, culture and arts camps. Past projects the lead coordinator for Walking With Our Sisters, a community-driven project that honours murdered or missing Indigenous women. Her work Giniigaaniimenaaning (Looking Ahead) commemorates residential school survivors, their families and communities to mark the Prime Minister’s historic Apology in 2008 and is installed at Centre Block on Parliament Hill commissioned by the Government of Canada. She was named the Aboriginal Arts Laureate by the Ontario Arts Council in 2015. In 2016 she won a Governor General’s Innovation Award and was named the winner of the 2016 Premier’s Awards in the Arts. Author of Medicines To Help Us (Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2007) and Beadwork (Ningwakwe Learning Press, 2010). Christi’s work is found within the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, Parliament Hill, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Canadian Museum of Civilization, First People’s Hall.
Nancy Rowe: Giidaakunadaad (The Spirit Who Lives in High Places) n’dizhinikaaz (is my name): Nancy Rowe is a Mississauga, Ojibwe of the Anishinaabek Nation located at New Credit First Nation, ON. Nancy holds an honors BA in Indigenous Studies and Political Science. She is an educator, consultant and a Traditional Practitioner of Anishinaabek lifeway’s, views and customary practices and is currently completing a Master’s degree of Environmental Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is an avid volunteer who coordinates Akinomaagaye Gaamik, a grassroots initiative to provide educational opportunities for all peoples interested in Indigenous perspectives of life, health, education, history and the environment. “Education is the doorway through which we all can create a common ground and understanding of not only Indigenous Peoples but also, and more importantly, our environment.”
Santee Smith / Tekaronhiahkwa is a multidisciplinary artist from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Six Nations. She trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, completed Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a Dance MA from York University. Santee premiered her inaugural work Kaha:wi in 2004 and later founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre which has grown into an internationally renowned company. Her body of work includes 14 productions and numerous short works and collaborations. She is a sought after teacher and speaker on Indigenous performance and culture. Through embodied storytelling and performance her work speaks to Indigenous identity and continuance. Smith is the Chancellor of McMaster University.
Angela DeMontigny is an internationally-renowned fashion designer of Cree-Metis heritage. DeMontigny grew up in North Vancouver and came to Toronto in 1991 as the recipient of a design internship through the Canadian Council for Aboriginal business. It was an award received from the Winds Of Change, a national aboriginal design competition. In 1995, DeMontigny moved to Six Nations of the Grand River reserve to start Spirit Ware and the Factory — the first and only Indigenous-owned apparel factory and industrial sewing training program.
No one exemplifies the title of trailblazer like DeMontigny does. She was the producer and feature designer for ‘FashioNation’ at L’Oreal Fashion Week, the first designer ever for Aboriginal Fashion Week during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and the first Indigenous designer-in-residence at Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communication and Design.
In 2014, DeMontigny opened her flagship boutique and gallery on trendy James Street North in Hamilton. DeMontigny’s business philosophy is sustainability and she strives to tell stories through her work.
“As a designer and artist, I have numerous opportunities to explore different mediums — whether it’s creating hand poured soy candles that utilize the healing aspects of Indigenous plant medicines, or large scale public art as a means to educate people about our beliefs, our ties to the land and all living things,” she said.
DeMontigny is not only known in Canada but around the world. She was the first Indigenous and Canadian designer to be featured on the runway during South Africa Fashion Week in 2017. She was also chosen by the Canadian High Commission to create and facilitate workshops to empower Indigenous women in Suriname and Guyana through fashion and business development 2019.
Her goal as a designer has been to challenge people’s perceptions and ideas of what ‘Indigenous fashion’ is and to break down stereotypes that have been taught since Europeans first arrived in North America.
DeMontigny’s most recent accomplishment will change the face of Hamilton’s waterfront for years to come. Her original artwork and concept for ‘All Our Relations’ will see five hand blown glass and steel sculptures based on Indigenous beadwork and cultural themes surrounding the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address. Angela continues to make an impact by mentoring and collaborating with other up-and-coming Indigenous designers in the revival of tradition and artistry through marketing and exporting, business innovation, and fashion.
Christi Belcourt, Nancy Rowe, Santee Smith, Angela DeMontigny, Grandmother Renee