Mattinaway Chakasim just turned 13 years old. Mattinaway is Mushkego Cree, born in Moose Factory in 2007 and raised in Moosonee, Ontario. She is a member of Attawapiskat First Nation. Mattinaway is the youngest of three girls in a woman only household. She has been homeschooled all her life and has developed an interest in art. Her preferred medium is acrylic on canvas. Mattinaway is too young to work so she has decided to become an entrepreneur using her art. She hopes to sell prints of her art to save for her post-secondary education and future.
Mattinaway’s other interests include shawl dancing and traditional arts, the design and creation of ribbon skirts, swimming and biking. She is currently nurturing a budding interest in physical fitness through self study in exercise and nutrition. Mattinaway recently became certified in trauma informed yoga instruction. While studying math, and the world views of indigenous people in what is called Canada, Mattinaway completed a course designed to give her the tools necessary to become a community leader in the fight against bias and hate and is currently attending a 7 week indigenous leadership camp.
Many people have asked for commissioned art from Mattinaway, however, she informs that her painting is not something she can just sit down and do at will. She says the feeling to paint must come over her because she doesn’t choose what to paint; “I just do what my paintbrush wants to do”.
The art Matty is selling shows her rapid progression over a 5 year period: “tipi”, “dreamcatcher” and “sun/mountain” were Mattinaway’s first paintings. Two years later, she painted the pink mountains. Two years after that came “Dark Night”.
Though less isolated than the nearby First Nations, Moosonee has no art supply stores so Mattinaway gets her supplies online with at least one annual excursion to Ottawa to visit family and for a huge shopping spree at an art store where Mattinaway can actually see and feel the paints and brushes.
Mattinaway paints what she sees. In addition to the beauty that surrounds her at home, her painting is heavily influenced by a cross Canada camping trip in 2015; her first paintings came to be when she returned home.
In addition to her artwork and homeschooling, Mattinaway has also created a program with her older sisters for First Nations people aged 5 to 105 that is designed to reconnect or strengthen an individual’s ties to culture & community while building resilience and independence, called “Young Warriors of Turtle Island”. They have had a very successful pilot with adults which resulted in the creation of “Warriors of Turtle Island”, which also resulted in the sisters being invited to share their program and work at an Indigenous Women’s Symposium held in Peterborough at Trent University in 2018.
The twins were 11 and Mattinaway 8 when they came up with the idea. They said this program was their response to MMIW&gs, unequal funding to schools on reserves, First Nation youth suicides, “the Prime Minister not giving the same money to that Blackstock woman for kids on reserves”, survivors & TRC recommendations and to fill the void that exists for First Nation specific materials for schooling they encountered all their homeschooled lives.
The global covid pandemic has stopped plans for a 2nd pilot and delayed plans to have the Young Warriors up on their website online. The girls will get there! And we hope all First Nations people will take part when they do! In the meantime, there are pictures you can view and some things you can read about at https://mchakasim71.wixsite.com/youngwarriors
Mattinaway has tried her hand at soapstone carving for the very first time a few days ago and made a very beautiful wolf and bear (which she is giving to grannies for Christmas – shhh!)