MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.
Born in Toronto to an Algonquin mother and Ojibwe father, Erica Commanda grew up on the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan reservation located in Golden Lake, Ontario. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and recently returning to Toronto. Erica spent the last 8 years in the hospitality industry mastering the art of listening to stories while slinging and spilling drinks with a couple of stints volunteering in provincial election campaigns. Serving drinks no longer satisfies her quest for stories and change so she ventured out to discover and master her own knack for storytelling and writing. Erica is now enrolled into Journalism at George Brown College in Toronto and continues to perfect her new craft as Staff Writer trainee at MUSKRAT Magazine and The Xtra Mile.
Zainab Amadahy is an author, screenwriter, community organizer and educator of African American, Cherokee and European heritage. Among her publications are the science fiction novels Resistance and Moons of Palmares. Her publication, Wielding the Force: The Science of Social Justice, explores emerging science and its relevance to social justice, activism and community organizing. For more information about Zainab’s work: www.swallowsongs.com.
Jamaias DaCosta is a writer, Spoken Word artist and performer, co-Host and Producer of The Vibe Collective radio show and is the Producer of Indigenous Waves Radio, both on CIUT 89.5FM. She sits on the Advisory Board for Mixed in Canada and is a member of the multidisciplinary artist group r3 collective. Jamaias facilitates educational workshops in grade schools, universities and at conferences such as the Allied Media Conference in Detroit and Toronto Truth and Reconciliation around stereotypes; Indigenous education and decolonial thought. Jamaias has worked with Caribbean Tales Film Festival, written for the CBC, and multiple publications. Jamaias is a mixed settler of Kanien’keha:ka, Cree, Irish and French, Jamaican (Colombian, African, Portuguese, Sephardic Jew) ancestry.
Publisher of MUSKRAT Magazine, Rebeka Tabobondung is a community documentary filmmaker, poet and Indigenous knowledge researcher. Rebeka is an M.A. graduate in Sociology & Equity Studies in Education. Her documentary work has screened at festivals across Canada and internationally, while her written works have been published in numerous journals and anthologies throughout North America. In 2008, Rebeka was the Festival Director of the imagineNATIVE film & Media Arts Festival and was also the former Director of the Centre for Women and Trans People at the University of Toronto. Rebeka's latest research and film work documents traditional birth knowledge from Wasauksing First Nation where she is also a member. She is the co-founder of MAAIINGAN Productions and Research Coordinator of the Indigenous Knowledge Network for Infant, Child, and Family Health at St. Michael's Hospital.
Amy Desjarlais is Ojibway/Potowotomi from Wasauksing First Nation. In 2003, Amy founded, EarthTALKER, a magazine focused on women and families. In 2008, Amy is the recipient of the FNTI/Ryerson University Practicum Award for Theory of Interconnectedness - An Indigenous perspective on political decision-making. Amy has an MA in Culture & History; her thesis, Emptying the Cup: Healing Fragmented Identity, explores an Anishinawbekwe (female) perspective on historical trauma and culturally appropriate consultation and is published by the Centre for World Indigenous Studies’ Fourth World Journal. Amy recently published her first non-fiction full-length book, Starblanket – A mother’s gift to her son. When she is not writing, Amy facilitates cultural workshops and drum circles. Amy is also a hand drummer and singer.
Cherie Dimaline has held many jobs including magician's assistant, museum curator and executive director. Her creative work has been featured in national magazines and sought after for diverse anthologies. Her first book, "Red Rooms" debuted in Spring of 2007 and received positive accolades from both Aboriginal and mainstream audiences, culminating in its receiving the Fiction Book of the Year Award at the Anskohk Literary Festival. Since its release, Red Rooms continues to find its way onto college and university reading lists and into libraries and schools internationally. She has traveled across Canada and to Australia to give readings and present lectures on her writing. Cherie lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner and their three children. She is the writer in residence for First Nations House at the University of Toronto and is the editor of FNH Magazine.
Janet Rogers is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario. She was born in Vancouver British Columbia and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, British Columbia) since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, spoken word performance poetry, video poetry and recorded poetry with music and script writing. Janet has three published poetry collections to date; Splitting the Heart, Ekstasis Editions 2007, Red Erotic, Ojistah Publishing 2010, Unearthed, Leaf Press 2011. Her newest collection “Peace in Duress” will be released with Talonbooks in September 2014. Her poetry CDs Firewater 2009, Got Your Back 2012 and 6 Directions 2013 all received nominations for Best Spoken Word Recording at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and the Native American Music Awards. You can hear Janet on the radio as she hosts Native Waves Radio on CFUV fm and Tribal Clefs on CBC radio one fm in Victoria BC. Her radio documentaries “Bring Your Drum” (50 years of indigenous protest music) and Resonating Reconciliation won Best Radio at the imagaineNATIVE Film and Media festival 2011 and 2013. Ikkwenyes or Dare to Do is the name of the collective Mohawk poet Alex Jacobs and Janet created in 2011. Ikkwenyes won the Canada Council for the Arts Collaborative Exchange award 2012 and a Loft Literary Prize in 2013.
Akeesha Footman is Marten Clan, and currently lives in Toronto. Her family roots are in Manitou Rapids, Treaty 3 Territory in Northwestern Ontario and Europe. She is a visual artist, storyteller, traditional knowledge carrier and proud Anishinaabe Oshkiniikwe. she enjoys dancing, making things, learning about traditional medicines and supporting youth access mental health and addictions resources. We look forward to her connecting with community members to promote Indigenous healing, arts, culture and education.
Jonathon Potskin is Cree from the Sawridge First Nation and is Metis from Alberta. His passion for making the world a better place is shown through his work within different Indigenous organizations across Canada and in Australia. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at Concordia University College of Alberta, a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the Australian National University and a Certificate in Graphic Design for Print and Web from Humber College. Jonathon Grew up as a Metis Dancer and performed across Canada and the USA. Jonathon was chosen as a Role Model with the National Aboriginal Role Model Program through NAHO, which allowed him to speak to youth across Canada on Higher Education and Youth Leadership.
Martha Troian (Maiingan) is Anishinawbe Kwe originally from Lac Seul First Nation located in northwestern Ontario. A multi-media journalist, Martha writes about Indigenous politics, women and children and media representation.
Born in St. Catherines, Clayton Windatt has lived in the Northeastern region of Ontario for most of his life. He is a Métis arts administrator currently working as an independent curator. After working as the Director of the White Water Gallery Artist-Run Centre in North Bay, Ontario for 7 years he now pursues his own practice of art creation and dissemination. Clayton holds a BA in Fine Art from Nipissing University and received his Graphic Design certification from Canadore College. He works actively with several arts organizations locally, provincially and nationally on committees and boards of directors including working with the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective for the past 4 years. Clayton maintains contracted positions with Canadore College’s REP21 theatre program and works as a columnist for the North Bay Nipissing News producing a weekly arts column for the Nipissing District. He works with the ON THE EDGE fringe festival and is a member of the Future In Safe Hands Collective. He aids Aanmitaagzi with their different community arts events and contributes actively as a writer, designer, curator, performer, theatre technician, consultant and is an active visual and media artist.
Lynn Gehl, Ph.D. is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. Her book The Truth that wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process was published in 2014 with Fernwood. She has a new book with University of Regina Press coming out in the fall of 2017 called, Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit.
Since the age of 16, Kai Zyganiuk has been working his way up the ranks in the exciting and ever-changing culinary world. Born in Toronto to a West Indian father and Native Canadian/Polish mother, Kai was inspired to pursue cooking by his grandmother on his mother's side, who he describes as "an incredible home-cook who prepared everything with love." Kai has worked for some of Toronto's top fine-dining establishments and private clubs. Most notably, Kai has worked alongside some of the country's most celebrated Chefs including U.K. native Frank Dodd (Hillebrand); Jason Parsons (Peller Estates); Jonathan Gushue (Truffles, Langdon Hall); and Lynn Crawford (Four Seasons). During his travels, Kai has also performed stages at various establishments around the world such as the Five-star RIU Hotel in Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and The Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney, Australia. Most recently, Kai's extreme culinary passion brought him to Los Angeles where he worked as the Executive Chef for one of Hollywood's premiere private clubs: Taglyan Complex.
Wenzdae (European/Metis/West Indian) is a writer, singer, musician, performing artist, and powwow enthusiast who has won national story contests, performed in diverse cabarets and continues to mentor under community experts in the fine arts and traditional bead work. This summer she will blog about art and events from across the homeland.
Lee Maracle is the author of a number of critically acclaimed winning literary works including: Sojourner's and Sundogs, Ravensong, Bobbi Lee, Daughters Are Forever, Will's Garden, Bent Box, I Am Woman, and First Wives' Club: Salish Style, and is co-editor of a number of anthologies including the award winning My Home As I Remember, Telling It: Women and Language Across Culture. She is a member of the Sto:Loh Nation and has served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor at both University of Toronto and Western Washington University. In 2009, Ms. Maracle received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the St. Thomas University. Her upcoming work, Memory Serves: and other words will be published by Coromont Book sin 2013.
With over 30 years experience in the food industry, John likes to think of himself as an urban hunter and gatherer grounded in the roots of his Anishinaabe and German ancestry. His opposition to the unsustainable nature of current industrial farming methods is consciously expressed by encouraging people to eat seasonal and locally produced foods (preferably organic) much as his Anishinaabe ancestors did. John was instrumental in restoring the Native Students' Association, Kahonake Kititikan medicine garden at The University of Toronto as a place for Aboriginal students to practice First Nations ceremony and to reconnect with the land. John is the current office manager trainee at Muskrat Magazine and a standardized patient/facilitator with the Standardized Patient Program at the University of Toronto.
Tannis Nielsen is a Metis of Cree, Sohto and Danish descent. As a practicing professional Indigenous artist and academic, Tannis has focused her research interests upon the examinations of an anti-colonial, Fourth World / Indigenous paradigm, as well as the Western / Euro-centric paradigm, Tannis locates herself within the praxis of a critical method of instruction that places emphasis towards the ideas of political, cultural, spiritual, social and environmental justice. As an artist Tannis has exhibited her works at such galleries as the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and has co-curated exhibitions such as the Enacting Emancipation show at A-Space Gallery, with Vicky Moufawad Paul. Tannis has also written a number of articles on arts and culture, some of which include "Re-materializing the Matriarchy" and "The Conundrum of Critical pedagogy in Community Arts Education" for Spirit Magazine.
Kendra is a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. She found yoga as she sought out therapy tools and activities for her daughter who has autism. Kendra has an SSW Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has worked extensively for her community in the capacity of helping and supporting at-risk families, youth and children. She is currently the Branch Administrator for Strongco Corporation and devotes all of her free time to her daughter, her family life, her yoga practice and the development of YogaRama. She lives in Rama with her husband and 7 year old daughter.
Hayden King is Pottawatomi and Ojibwe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing (Christian Island) in Huronia, Ontario. Hayden’s teaching career began in 2007 at McMaster University’s Indigenous Studies Program and in 2012 he accepted an appointment in the department of Politics at Ryerson University, eventually serving as the Academic Director of the Public Administration partnership with the First Nations Technical Institute. Hayden’s research revolves around land and resource management, often in the Canadian north, and Anishinaabe political economy, diplomacy and international relations. Hayden is also among the noted Indigenous public intellectuals in Canada, frequently contributing to the national conversation on Indigenous issues. In addition to work in the academy, Hayden has served as governance consultant to First Nations in Ontario. He is also the co-founder of the Anishinaabemowin language and arts collective The Ogimaa Mikana Project. Hayden is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in International Relations in the Political Science Department at McMaster University, and also holds an MA from Queen’s University (Political Science).
Keesic Douglas is an Ojibway artist from the Mnjikaning First Nation in central Ontario. He specializes in the mediums of photography and video. His work has been exhibited across Canada and in the United States and focuses on issues surrounding his Native heritage. His videos Rezurrection and Slide have been programmed at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, with the Vanishing Trace winning Best Short Documentary in 2007. Keesic has just completed his Master of Fine Arts in photography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Keesic also has a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and two Diplomas in Hotel and Resort Management. He has worked and dined in the finest of restaurants to the lowliest road-side stands and all kinds of Pow Wow food vendors.
Audrey Huntley is a wanderer, storyteller, documentary filmmaker, community researcher and writer/producer of mixed European settler and Indigenous (Anishnawbe) ancestry. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and moved to Europe as a young adult. Audrey has a Masters in Political Sciences from the Philipps University of Marburg, Germany. Audrey has been doing community based research in Indigenous communities in BC and Ontario since 1998. Her documentary about Norma George, an Indigenous woman from Takla Landing who was murdered and dumped on the outskirts of Vancouver, Go Home, Baby Girl (2005) aired nationally on CBC television in addition to Letters from Caledonia/Six Nations (2006) (11min) and Mohawk Smokes (2006) (12 min). Produced independently by WolfDogProductions A Warrior-Woman’s Journey: From Six Nations to Oaxaca (26 min) screened at ImagineNative 2008. Audrey has authored several reports as well as a book in German Writing Resistance: The Discourse of Decolonization in Native Women’s Writing (1996) Audrey is currently based in Toronto, ON.
Aimee is the graphic designer and event photographer for MUSKRAT Magazine. She is self-identified Métis who lives and works in Toronto and enjoys playing with shapes and colours.
Ryan McMahon (Anishinaabe/Metis) is the Creator | Producer | Host of the Red Man Laughing Podcast. In 2012 he became the first Native comedian to have ever taped a one hour, mainstream comedy special for CBC TV and that same summer made his debut at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival. Ryan tours North America independently with his fast paced, often angry-ish, loose & irreverent standup comedy storytelling style.
Alan Ojiig Corbiere, Bne doodem (The ferocious and predatory Ruffed Grouse clan), is an Anishinaabe from M'Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. He was educated on the reserve and then attended the University of Toronto for a Bachelor of Science; from there he went on to study at York University and earned his Masters of Environmental Studies. During his masters studies he focused on Anishinaabe narrative and Anishinaabe language revitalization. Mr. Corbiere has studied the Ojibwe language for many years and has attained some measure of fluency. For five years he served as the Executive Director at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M'Chigeeng, a role which also encompassed acting as curator and historian. Currently he is the Anishinaabemowin Revitalization Program Coordinator at M'Chigeeng First Nation.
Kory Snache is Anishnaabe from Rama First Nation and is a member of the Bear clan. His traditional hunting and gathering skills along with his training as an outdoor adventure guide and survival instructor has allowed him to guide and travel internationally. Kory has worked extensively with the youth from his home community through recreational sports, outdoor adventure, and as a fastball coach. He is currently bringing his energy and passion to the youth on Wasauksing First Nation where he is residing and working as a youth program coordinator. Kory is completing the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program offered through Queen's University and looks forward to continuing his work with Aboriginal youth.
Author John Moore is from Moose Factory, Ontario and is part of the Mushkegowuk Cree Nation being a Taykwa Tugamou Nation member. I believe deep in my heart that ART is everything. I enjoy my creative writing as it is a gift from The Great Mystery, besides it being an outlet for light and energy it has allowed me to get in touch with our First Nation's way of life.
Chrissy Swain is a mother and youth leader from Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows First Nation, 80 km north of Kenora, Ontario.) Chrissy has been an integral leader in the Grassy Narrows resistance to logging on their traditional territory, youth empowerment, and the resurgence of Anishinaabe culture in the community. In 2008, Chrissy led a group of 22 youth from Grassy Narrows and neighbouring First Nations on the Protecting Our Mother Walk—over 1800 kilometres to Toronto. She led a second Walk for Mother Earth in 2009 from Grassy Narrows to Ottawa.
Randy Fred survived nine years as a student at the Alberni indian Residential School. He first shared this experience as a foreword in Celia Haig-Brown's book, "Resistance & Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School", published by Arsenal Pulp Press' imprint, Tillacum Library, for which he was the Managing Editor. After a degenerative eye condition prevented him from continuing in his career of accounting he moved into the communications field. He worked in radio broadcasting, video production, book publishing, newspaper publishing and currently publishes a magazine, "FACE: Aboriginal Life & Culture". He set up short courses in communications, trained many people in book and newspaper publishing and today does contract work in training coordination for aboriginal fishers.
An award-winning writer of Cree/Metis ancestry, Marilyn Dumont's work has been widely published in literary journals around the world. Marilyn's first collection, A Really Good Brown Girl, won the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award presented by the League of Canadian Poets. This collection is now in its 11th printing, and selections from it are widely anthologized. Her second collection, Green Girl Dreams Mountains, won the 2001 Stephan G. Stephansson Award from the Writer's Guild of Alberta. That Tongued Belonging, her third collection, was awarded the 2007 Anskohk Aboriginal Poetry Book of the Year, and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year. Marilyn has held several positions as Writer-in-Residence at academic institutions and currently teaches Creative Writing at Athabasca University. In 2008, she was Writer-in-Residence at Edmonton Public Library. Marilyn is currently working on her fourth manuscript in which she explores Metis history, politics and identity through her ancestral descendant, Gabriel Dumont.
Maria F. is a guest contributor for MUSKRAT Magazine. She is an Indigenous writer from the Wayuu Nation and a student now living in Toronto.
Oral history has Rand’s great-great-grandmother, Mercy Anne, travelling from the community of Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory, to the Kennebec, Ontario area, with 6 girls and one boy, possibly to escape a world no longer hers. He is a graduate of the Aboriginal Studies and English Literature programs at the University of Toronto. He also holds a Certificate in Creative Writing from the School of Continuing Studies at the U/T. He is currently looking for a publisher for his recently completed book of poetry, Red Against the Dawn.
Zeeb Amy King is a 21-year-old emerging writer and broadcaster from Wasauksing First Nation. Amy is currently studying Radio Broadcasting at Seneca College. Small Island, Big Voice is her first publication in a magazine. While Amy is new to the field of media, she plans on running her own radio station in the near future. Her interests include hockey, travelling, baseball, and traditional ceremonies.
Louise Solomon is an Ojibwe artist and “urban Indian” from downtown Toronto. Although she was born and raised in downtown Toronto she has always had a strong connection to her Ojibwe roots and Reserve which is Cape Croker First Nations. Louise’s love for art was nourished at an early age by her Grandmother. She would spend time with her after school sculpting, painting pictures or learning how to bead. She attended the University of Guelph where she received her Bachelor of Arts, where she specialized in Sculpture and Extended Media. Afterwards she went on to study Jewellery Methods at George Brown College and now she makes pieces of jewellery that are edgy and mainstream but still embody the spiritual and cultural values of her Ojibwe traditions.
Jessica Kraitberg grew up on Vancouver Island BC, where she developed a deep love and respect for the land that continues to capture her imagination and influences the relationships she builds, the foods she eats, and how she chooses to spend her time. Jessica moved to Toronto to persue her passion for women and family centered care where she graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery from Ryerson University. Jessica is of Dutch/Canadian ancestry and was raised with her sister and brother who share Anishinaabe ancestry. Because of this connection and through involvement in the Aboriginal community in Toronto, Jessica has fostered an awareness of the richness, diversity, and complexities within Aboriginal communities which informs her work as a midwife as she looks towards traditional birth knowledges and practices to support her clients and encourage positive pregnancy and birth experiences. She is currently working with Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto.
Marika Swan is a Tla-o-qui-aht woman born out in the wilds of the west coast, on an island, on the beach, in a spot where whaling chiefs used to bring the whales in. Marika honours her deep and profound relationship to her traditional land as well as her responsibility to it's survival, health, and freedom. Since 2005, Marika has been working with Redwire Native Youth Media Society, which has shown her the importance of healing through expression. Marika is also a writer, painter, print-maker, and traditional carver.
Ryan RedCorn (Osage from Pawhuska Oklahoma) is co-owner of Buffalo Nickel Creative and co-founder of the 1491s. He is married to his beautiful wife Electa and has two daughters, Pehan and Kalin.
Gregory Scofield is one of Canada’s leading Aboriginal writers whose five collections of poetry have earned him both a national and international audience. He is known for his unique and dynamic reading style that blends oral storytelling, song, spoken word and the Cree language. His maternal ancestry can be traced back to the fur trade and to the Métis community of Kinosota, Manitoba, which was established in 1828 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. His paternal ancestry is Jewish, Polish and German that is reflective of the immigrant experience to Canada at the turn of the century. His poetry and memoir, Thunder Through My Veins (HarperCollins, 1999) is taught at numerous universities and colleges throughout Canada and the U.S., and his work has appeared in many anthologies. He was the subject of a feature length documentary, Singing Home The Bones: A Poet Becomes Himself (The Maystreet Group, 2007) that aired on CHUM TV, BRAVO!, APTN, and the Saskatchewan Television Network. He has served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Manitoba and Memorial University of Newfoundland. His latest collection, Kipocihkan: Poems New & Selected (Nightwood Editions) and the republication of I Knew Two Metis Women, along with the Companion CD (Gabriel Dumont Institute) was released in Spring 2010. As well, his third collection of poetry, Love Medicine and One Song was re-released by Kegedonce Press in 2009. He currently lives in Maple Ridge, B.C.
Jesse Wente is the Director of Film Programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox, overseeing New Releases, series and TIFF Cinematheque programming and scheduling. Prior to his appointment as Director of Film Programmes, Wente served as one of the Canadian features programmers for the Toronto International Film Festival and he has also programmed for the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival. He is well known as a film critic and broadcaster in Toronto and across Canada. Before joining TIFF, he was a weekly contributor to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and covered film and pop culture for 20 other local CBC Radio programs.
Maria Hupfield is a graduate of the MFA program at York University, and holds a BA Specialist in Art and Art History from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College. Her work was featured in the 2011 winter edition of Black Flash Magazine on performance photography. Recent exhibitions include a solo at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and with the Crossing Collective as part of a performance exchange between Beyond Artist Collective, Belfast Ireland and SAW Gallery, Ottawa. Maria is of Anishnaabe (Ojibway) heritage, and a member of Wasauksing First Nation, in Ontario. She is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
Steven Loft is a Mohawk of the Six Nations with Jewish heritage. A curator, scholar, writer and media artist, he was named Trudeau National Visiting Fellow at Ryerson University in 2010, where he is continuing his research into Indigenous art and aesthetics. Loft has held positions as Curator-In-Residence, Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada (2008 – 2010); Director/Curator of the Urban Shaman Gallery, Winnipeg(2002 – 2008); Aboriginal Curator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (2000 – 2002); and Producer and Artistic Director of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association (1993 – 1998).
Ben Powless is a Mohawk citizen from Six Nations in Ontario, currently living in Ottawa, Canada. He has a degree in Human Rights, Indigenous and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. He has worked with the Indigenous Environmental Network, focused on climate justice and resource extraction in Indigenous territories, particularly the tar sands, and most recently Ecology Ottawa as an organizer against the Energy East Pipeline. He is also an organizer with the Defenders of the Land network, Idle No More, and was a co-founder of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. He enjoys biking and photography in his spare time.
Giles Benaway (Tsagli/Anishinaabe/Metis) is of Odawa/Potawatomi/Eastern Cherokee, and Anglo Metis descent. He is a Masters student at The University of Toronto in the field of sociolinguistics and second language acquisition. His poetry can be found in First Nations House Magazine and scrawled within bathroom stalls at truck stops across Northern Ontario.
Jenifer Rudski is Tetlit Gwichen/English/Polish/Scottish. She has always felt a deep connection to water and paddle boarding's balancing connection to body, breathe and water compliments her Yoga roots. She loves sharing her passion of early morning paddles, sun-salutations and full moon paddles on Lake Ontario. Jenifer is a Certified Paddle Board Instructor through Paddle Canada, Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher, and CPR & First Aid Certified.
Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo is the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada. Atleo is a First Nations activist and formerly served as the AFN's Regional Chief in British Columbia. He is a Hereditary Chief of the Ahousaht First Nation, part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and holds a Master of Education in Adult Learning and Global Change (MEd) from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. In 2008, he was named Chancellor of Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia, becoming the first university chancellor of Aboriginal heritage in the province's history.Atleo has been the executive director of a family addictions treatment facility and of an Aboriginal post-secondary training institute, Umeek Human Resource Development. He was a participant in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and led a delegation to assist in rebuilding Indigenous communities in Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its associated tsunami.He is also a member of the World Future Council. Atleo and his partner of 26 years, Nancy, have two adult children, Tyson and Tara.
Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy is Ojibway Anishinaabe of mixed ancestry from the Treaty 3 area in Northwestern Ontario and Bawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and presently resides in Williams Treaty (1923) area in Southern Ontario with her daughter. She affirms and promotes Anishinaabe life through multiple literary forms (i.e. poetry, short prose, short story, spoken word, storytelling) and photography. She is the winner of Briarpatch’s 2nd Annual Short Story Creative writing (fiction) contest (2013) and is the co-editor of Matrix Magazine’s first dossier of new Indigenous writing (autumn 2013). Christine is writing her first poetry manuscript, which illuminates biskaabiyaang, an Anishinaabe process of returning to self. She works in the field of Indigenous Literature and Creative Writing, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Indigenous Studies. Her blog, “Anishinaabeweziwin” can be accessed at https://giizismoon.wordpress.com
Rooted in the struggle of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation where she was raised in a family of social and land justice activists, Eriel Deranger’s life has focused around Indigenous land issues. Eriel’s activism has led her to international levels where she has worked with groups and institutions such as TakingItGlobal, Canadian Heritage, Aboriginal Affairs, and the United Nations Indigenous Youth Caucus. Since 2006, Eriel has participated in numerous forums such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and the International Training Centre for Indigenous People in Illuslisat, Greenland. Eriel is currently working with the Rainforest Action Network and the Indigenous Environmental Network to create awareness about the negative climate and human rights impacts of the Alberta Tar Sands and demanding change.
Paul Seesequasis is the author of Tobacco Wars, among other works. He is currently working on a book on Indigenous protest in the age of social media.
Lisa Myers is an independent curator, artist, chef and musician of Ojibway Heritage. Her writing has been published in C Magazine, Fuse, and Senses and Society. Lisa Myers lives and works between Toronto and Port Severn, Ontario.
Dustin Johnson is a born and raised Tsimshian from the Killerwhale Clan from the northwest coast of BC. Dustin has worked on decolonization initiatives and anti-oppressive social justice organizing in Vancouver as well as Prince Rupert and Terrace, B.C. The strength and beauty of unceded, non-surrendered Tsimshian territory, combined with the cultural knowledge of the hereditary system, genealogies and the Tsimshian language, provided Dustin with a strong foundation. Dustin graduated from the University of British Columbia with a focus on First Nations Studies and Political Science, where he was also an organizer with the UBC Indigenous Student's Society that challenged systemic racism and institutional discrimination. Dustin is the former the Editor of Redwire Magazine, an uncensored and artistic magazine for and by Indigenous youth focusing on liberating cultural, social, and political issues facing Indigenous people across Turtle Island. Dustin has also been involved with the Tsimshian Guardians Society, a Tsimshian-based group that seeks to uplift the hereditary system and traditional laws by uniting grassroots leadership.
Paul Kitz recently moved back to his birthplace of Toronto - Mississauga of New Credit and Haudenosaunee traditional territories - after being blessed enough to live for five years on unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver. Born to Jewish parents of European descent, Paul loves spending time with kids, encountering peoples' honesty, singing and dancing, writing and sitting still.
Mohawk Elder Jan Longboat is a member of the Turtle Clan of Six Nations of the Grand River. Jan is a traditional herbalist, healer and Elder that works within a wholistic concept of healing. Owner of Earth Healing Herb Gardens & Retreat Centre, Jan runs Dotah's House, monthly workshops which invite community members to listen, hear, laugh, and heal with the the Dotah's (Elders).
Sage Paul began designing prior to attending Torontos George Brown Colleges Fashion Design program where she graduated in 2006. Sage has developed a unique perspective for fashion while working in the Toronto Indigenous arts community, an urban community that is vibrant and outspoken and one that Sage finds incredible inspiration from. Working with cultural and traditional concepts Indigenous and Western, Sage seeks to identify the urban Indian through her work.
Christine Smith (McFarlane) is a Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation and a contributing editor at The Toronto Review of Books. She has a regular column in the Native Canadian Newsletter, and freelances for Anishinabek News, First Nations House Magazine, Windspeaker, New Tribe Magazine, and firstperspective.ca.
Deborah is Anishnabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ontario. For over two decades Deborah has been an educator and trainer at both the university and community levels and has been involved in curriculum development, research and teaching. Deborah's research background concerns Indigenous knowledge in relation to the environment. Deborah has focussed particularly on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and its application in various contexts including environmental management, sustainable development, water conservation, forest management, cultural sustainability, ethics and consultation. A primary theme found throughout Deborah's work includes determining how to improve relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal parties; and how to ensure the appropriate consideration of Aboriginal peoples' knowledge, values and rights in environmental and resource management in Canada. Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband Steve and their sons, Hillary and Arden.
Michael Belmore was born just north of Thunder Bay and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art with an A.O.C.A. in Sculpture/Installation. Belmore has utilized a variety of media including plastics, metal, wood and photography. Michael’s work explores the use of technology and how it has affected our relationship to nature.
Travis Shilling's paintings tell a story. A filmmaker and playwright, Travis' work reflects a rich imagination and exceptional skill. Travis' recent paintings juxtapose civilization and the animal world in a narrative dreamscape. His short film 'Bear Tung', featuring Gary Farmer, was a selection in the 2011 National Museum of American Indian in NYC as well as the Santa Fe independent film festival in October. Travis was born in Rama, Ontario: the second of two artist sons of acclaimed Aboriginal artist Arthur Shilling. Travis has exhibited since age 21 in Canada, Europe and the US. He travels between a studio in Rama and one in Toronto.
Ian Wylie is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto. Outside of his studies, he assisted in expanding the Canadian Roots Exchange into Alberta. Currently, he is working on a project with his partner exploring the experiences of Aboriginal peoples living in cities. He lives in Toronto.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is of Mississauga Nishnaabeg ancestry and is the author of Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence. She is the editor of Lightning the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations and This is an Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Blockades, all published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing in Winnipeg. Leanne has two new books forthcoming in 2013, a collection of traditional stories entitled The Gift Is In The Making (Highwater Press), and Islands of Decolonial Love (Arbeiter Ring), a collection of short stories.
Philip Cote is Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi and Ojibway from Moose Deer Point First Nation. He is a graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design and has been at the forefront of a group of artists who are exploring new ways to imbue sculpture, painting and other installation art with traditional spiritual perspectives. Philip has been exhibited and commissioned for various galleries, festivals and residencies across Canada and the United States. His recent work includes the 5680 square foot “All My Relations” mural displayed at Allen Gardens until 2015. Philip co-managed and participated in designing one of the five murals. He also recently had a story published in Copper Thunderbird The Art of Norval Morrisseau 2012. Philip is currently a board member on the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. Philip’s great-grandfather is the great-grandson of Tecumseh, and he has been exploring and researching the importance of the Shawnee leader’s life and spirit.
Rachel Deschenes- Pegahmagabow graduated from Rosseau Lake College in 2014. She has a passion for reading and writing and placed in the top ten of the Aboriginal Arts and Stories 2015 competition. She is Ojibwe from Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario.
Joanne C. Mitchell was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She is of Oneida and English descent. She lives in Windsor, Ontario with her three children. Joanne is co-founder of the Turtle Island Garden Club, which is a garden club that promotes food gardening within the First Nations community in the local area. She is actively involved with volunteering within the community.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation. She has worked with a range of organizations including Redwire Media Society, the Indigenous Media Arts Group and the Indigenous Environmental Network. She currently works as a tarsands climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace. In 2011 Melina was declared the Godmother of the Rainbow Warrior III ship, which is powered by wind, diesel engines and an electric motor, has a crew of 32 and advanced waste recycling abilities. It was built in Poland and Germany and cost EUR 16 million, much of which was financed through private donations. In 2012 Melina testified before the US Congressional Committee on the impacts of tar sands projects in northern Alberta.
Toghestiy Wet’suwet’en, (Warner Naziel), hereditary Chief of the Likhts'amisyu clan of the Wet'suwet'en is an active Defender of the Land, dedicated to ensuring the heritage of his ancestors can be passed on to future generations.
James LaForest is a native of the Michigan, growing up near the Straits of Mackinac. He has long been interested in issues related to heritage and culture - and the right of individuals to give voice to their own identities. He is the writer at The Red Cedar blog and editor of the online community journal Voyageur Heritage. He is the founder of the French Canadian Cultural Alliance of the Great Lakes and a member of the Ontario-based Voyageur Métis.
Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in) is an award-winning director and a leading talent in experimental documentary. Her work is broad-ranging, from intimate autobiographies on healing and language to forays into fictional film with ?E?anx-The Cave, a traditional Sci Fi story in the Tsilhqot’in language, which won top 10 film in Canada from Toronto International film festival 2009 and was an Official Selection of Sundance Film Festival 2011. Her work has aired on APTN, CBC, Knowledge, NITV (Australia) and has been showcased around the world at film festivals such as Berlinale, Rotterdam and Sundance.
Nuu-chah-nulth from the Ahousaht First Nation on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Artistically, J'net expresses herself through traditional cedar bark weaving and contemporary textile art on clothing. Professionally, J'net's goal is to work as a cultural resource, mentor and facilitator to create forums that engage with Indigenous communities which foster networks and celebrate through culture and the arts.
In 1976, Chief Wilton Littlechild had the distinction of being the first Treaty First Nation person to acquire a law degree from the University of Alberta. He received his Bachelor of Physical Education Degree in 1967 and his Master's Degree in Physical Education in 1975. In June of 2007, the University of Alberta bestowed the Doctor of Laws Degree on Chief Littlechild for his outstanding achievements. An avid sportsman and athlete, Chief Littlechild has won more than fifty provincial, regional, national, and international championships. He has served as a coach and organizer of sports events, was a founder of the North American Indigenous games, and has been inducted into seven different sports halls of fame. He is currently working on the World Indigenous Nations Games, which are scheduled for 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Chief Littlechild is a respected lawyer and operates the law firm of J. Wilton Littlechild, Barrister and Solicitor, which is situated in the Ermineskin Reserve. He is a strong advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and promoter of implementation of the treaties between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Crown, now represented by the federal government. Chief Littlechild also served as the Chairperson for the Commission on First Nations and Metis Peoples and Justice Reform, mandated to review the justice system in the province of Saskatchewan. Chief Littlechild served as a Member of Parliament from 1988 -- 1993 for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimby. He served on several senior committees in the House of Commons and was a parliamentary delegate to the United Nations. Chief Littlechild organized a coalition of Indigenous Nations that sought and gained consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. He was re-appointed by the E.C.O.S.O.C. President to represent North America and has completed his second and final term as the North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Chief Littlechild was honoured by being appointed the Honourary Chief for the Maskwacis Crees and also honoured by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations as the International Chief for Treaty No. 6 Confederacy. Elected by the Chiefs of Treaties 6, 7, 8 (Alberta) as the Regional Chief for the three treaty territories in October of 2006 to serve a three-year term. He is married to Helen Peacock and is the father of three children: Teddi, Neil and Megan.
Jimson Bowler's sculptural work combines traditional media such as bone and turquoise, with discarded modern materials. Jimson takes inspiration from the traditional ways that respectfully use all materials from mother earth. He seeks to create objects that keep the stories alive, motivate us to learn the culture, and realize that Aboriginal people are not relics of an ancient past.
Suzanne Morrissette is an interdisciplinary artist based out of thunder bay, ontario. morrissette's research interests span across a variety of related topics: place, home, frontiers, blood and colonial inheritances, power and freedom narratives in land. she has exhibited in several group shows. morrissette has curated exhibitions in winnipeg, toronto, and now thunder bay, where she works as curatorial resident at the thunder bay art gallery. past exhibitions include you are here (art gallery of ontario, 2010), and past now (maclaren art centre, 2010-2011). morrissette graduated from emily carr university of art + design with a bachelor of fine art in 2009 where her studies focused on the narrative and utilitarian properties of the painted surface, ceramic objects, and textile-based media. in 2011 she received her master of fine art from the ontario college of art & design university in which her thesis contributed to the study of land and memory in contemporary Aboriginal art.
Cheryl L'Hirondelle is a much sought after singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist. A mixed-blood (Metis/Cree-non status / treaty, French, German, Polish) originally from Alberta, her creative practice investigates the junction of a Cree worldview in contemporary time and space. Cheryl L'Hirondelle's projects span a wide array of disciplines including: music, performance art, spoken word, storytelling, theatre, installation, public/community art, audio art, pirate radio and net.art.
Susan Blight is Anishinaabe from Couchiching First Nation. A visual artist, filmmaker, and arts educator, Susan is a committed student of the Ojibwe language. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor (2007) in Integrated Media, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (2004), and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies (1999) from the University of Manitoba. Susan currently lives and works in Toronto and is the host of Indigenous Waves radio show.
Independent Curator William Kingfisher is a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. A Ph.D. candidate in the Indigenous Studies Department at Trent University and artistic associate producer at Indigenous Performance Initiatives (IPI), Kingfisher's work explores the connections that take place between landscape, traditional anishinaabe knowledge, and contemporary Native art. At IPI Kingfisher supports Indigenous artists to tell their own stories: through dance, music, theatre and video, creating stories of this generation -- merging cultural history with current concerns, presenting dreams and images for the future. His curatorial work, ayaandagon: outdoor installations in an anishinaabe garden profiled in this issue of MUSKRAT Magazine continues to be used today as a place to engage in local history, anishinaabe Indigenous knowledge, teaching children, and our relationship to the changing landscape.
Winnipeg-based artist KC Adams graduated from Concordia University with a BFA and works in medium that includes: sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, printmaking and kinetic art. KC Adams has had several solo exhibitions, most recently Legacy at the Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta, NSW. She has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, Circuit City at My Winnipeg at la maison rouge in Paris, France, Cyborg Living Space II, The Language of Intercession at the OBORO Gallery in Montreal and Cyborg Hybrids at the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. She has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, the Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, National Museum of the American Indian in New York and Canada CouncilÕs International residency in Parramatta, NSW.
Peter Morin is of the Crow clan of the Tahltan Nation of Telegraph Creek, BC. Peter spent 4 years working with Redwire Magazine, as a community educator and advocate for First Nations youth, through media, writing and art. As a practicing visual artist, PeterÕs work looks deeply into issues of First Nations identity, family and healing. His most recent work includes "Team Diversity Bannock, the World's Largest Bannock attempt" and "7 Suits for 7 Days".
MUSKRAT Magazine is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture, and living magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary.
In Gemini season of ’95, Jada Reynolds-Tabobondung was born into the bustling multicultural community that is Toronto, Ontario. Born to a single mother from Wasauksing First Nation and a father from Kingston Jamaica, Jada grew up with a deep-rooted sense of activism and a love for all things social media. In 2013 they entered Brock University for communication and media studies however the struggle of feeling isolated within an ‘ignorant’ institution inspired them to pursue the ‘hustle’and to make a name for themselves beyond the confines of an oppressive school system. This dream of inclusion for the expression of gender variance and culture is reflected in their band, “Fathers” playing multiple festivals and shows in Ontario and Quebec. Jada has also helped establish the TATBoT (the artists time bank of Toronto) and co-created Yung Coconut, an events planning and promoting group focused on intersectional feminism and the inclusion of youth and People of Colour in the Toronto Punk scene. In Taurus season of ’16 they have joined the MUSKRAT Family as Online Content Coordinator. Follow them on social media @saintpellegrino
Sharon Rudski is Tetlit Gwichen/English/Polish/Scottish, and is an active first year university student at U of T and a mother to an equally active 7 year old. She believes that health/happiness are important for one's well being and expresses this through leading an active lifestyle. Having an aversion to keeping fit by working out in a gym, Sharon has found paddle boarding to be a unique exercise that is almost effortless in it's enjoyment. Sharon is a Certified Paddle Board Instructor through Paddle Canada, and CPR & First Aid Certified.
Waukomaun Pawis is an Ojibwe from Wasauksing First Nation. He is a Toronto based Videographer and Director of Photography who studied Television and New Media Productions at Loyalist College. Upon completing the Advanced Diploma program at Loyalist, Waukomaun worked for a number of years with Big Soul Productions on notable projects such as the Indspire Awards, APTN First Tracks, By The Rapids, and in corporate video production. Specializing in corporate and small business video production, Waukomaun is a storyteller and artist who enjoys meeting people and sharing their stories. When he is not behind the lens of a camera, Waukomaun can be found in the bush or on the lake, of his home community of Wasauking, camping and fishing.
Jude Norris is a multi-disciplinary artist who employs idiosyncratic combinations of Native material, language, traditional creative practice, and iconography with elements of western technology, art practice, theory, and language. Grounded by a strong aesthetic sensibility, and often a subtle humour, her work is an exploration and expression of the oddness and challenges of contemporary colonized reality.
Wanda Nanibush is an Anishinabe-kwe image and word warrior from Beausoleil First Nation. Her mediums include visual art, filmmaking, writing, curating and arts administration, consulting and leadership. Recently she curated House of Wayward Spirits with artists Rebecca Belmore, James Luna, Lori Blondeau, Adrian Stimson, Archer Pechawis and The Contrary Collective. She has a Masters in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. Nanibush has published in FUSE magazine, Literary Review of Canada and in the book: This is an Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Blockades, among others.
Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training was created in 1991 to meet the unique training and employment needs of aboriginal peoples. Miziwe Biik provides the Greater Toronto Area’s Aboriginal community with training initiatives and employment services. Formerly known as the The Greater Toronto Aboriginal Management Board (G.T.A.M.B), the name MIZIWE BIIK was given to us by Elder Jim Windigo. Our new name is associated with the female water spirit, and means water which flows all around us.
Darlene Ritchie is President of Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre is an autonomous, vibrant cultural agency that involves and serves the Indigenous community with confidence for and commitment to their well-being. Their mandate is to provide counseling, material assistance and other direct services to First Nations people as well as to encourage and enhance spiritual and personal growth.