2018 - 2019 - 2020
In September & October 2018, with the intent to build new bridges between 5 communities in Ontario through the arts and community engagement, the Jamii team visited Pikangikum First Nation, Wawa, Michicipoten First Nation and Wolfe Island.
We visited each community with an open mind to allow organic conversations. Our intent was to listen and share our journey with local community arts organizations, meet people, artists and community activists and potentially create something wonderful together in a near future.
Why these communities? Because three Esplanadians have strong ties in each of them: Darren Marshall is from Wawa, Asmita Pal taught in Pikangikum and Kerryn Graham lived with her family in Wolfe Island. All three are our ambassadors on this project and act as connectors between all our people to create genuine dialogue.
Indigenous spoken word artist Mahlikah Awe:ri, Enml'ga't Saqama'sgw has been accompanying Isorine Marc, Executive and Artistic Director of Jamii, along with the ambassadors on each of the visits to these 4 communities.
From this initial visit, Jamii invited each community to take part in an intra-provincial artistic collaboration between our 5 communities. Together, we would bring to life "Wind Stories". This project invites residents of each community to create "portraits" of fellow community members. These portraits start with a one-on-one conversation and materialize through photography, visual arts and creative writing.
In November 2019, the Jamii team (composed of Isorine Marc, Darren Marshall, Georgia Reynolds, artist Kara Spencer and artist Dan Bergeron) traveled to Wawa to create the first 22 portraits of the project. The project was enthusiastically received by the community ending in a celebration on November 16th at the Lakeview Hotel with 60 people in attendance, sharing their portraits and experience through the project.
In both November and December, the Jamii team (Isorine Marc, Kerryn Graham, Scarlett Graham, artist Kara Spencer and artist Andrew Patterson) traveled to Wolfe Island. More than 50 people have been involved in the project on the island with a beautiful series of portraits created.
In February 2020, the project took place in Toronto where 22 Esplanadians created portraits of neighbours, friends, and family members. We completed the project with a get-together at Performing Arts Lodge, sharing the portraits with each other. The portraits were displayed at the Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre on February 13th and 15th 2020.
The Jamii team (Isorine Marc, photographer Gillian Mapp, spoken word artist Mahlikah Awe:ri) visited Pikangikum from February 18 to 28 2020. 18 portraits were created by students of the Eenchokay Birchstick School and community members. We were warmly received and honored to spend time creating together.
This project was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council.
The WInd Stories exhibit was first presented at the Canadian Opera Company in February 2020 to hundreds of youth and their parents.
In the Summer and Fall of 2020, Wind Stories, was first presented in Toronto then in Wawa and next Wolfe Island.
In Toronto, the exhibit was displayed in Crombie Park and St James Park, on June 29th, July 17th, July 18th, July 24th and 25th.
In parallel to the exhibit, we invited 8 artists from Toronto to bring these portraits to life through the creation of a series of mini-performances inspired by some of the portraits.
Here is a video of the live streaming of one of these performances:
We then reconnected with our contacts in Wawa and Wolfe Island and together decided to bring the exhibit to these communities in September.
In each of these two communities, we invited 8 local artists to repeat the wonderful experience we had in Toronto by choosing a portrait and bringing it to life through dance, musical and visual performances.
We had about 100 audience members in Wawa and 50 in Wolfe Island. These performances were also streamed online: