Expressions of Reclamation

During the Summer of 2021, we presented an opportunity to learn from emerging Indigenous artists and be inspired by their stories and diverse teachings. These free artist showcase events provide a safe and welcoming space for the community to learn about Indigenous practices and creative expressions. A short Q&A session follows each presentation.

All events are free. Due to health orders restricting attendance capacity, please register for an in-person event on Eventbrite. You can also email with the date you want to attend.

“I’ve noticed that words like reconciliation or reclamation usually have to do with land claims […] but I’m interested in artists who use their creativity and art expression to reclaim their identity, their place in their nation, to connect to who they are.” – Timothy Elijah, Curator


June 21, 2021 10:15 am – Medicine Wheel making with S^yowah (Timothy Elijahh)

June 29, 2021, 6:30 pm – Coffee Story, Theatre with Cameron Peal at Centennial Lodge

July 24, 2021, 12:00pm – Lady’s Fancy Shawl dancing demonstration with Fawnda Bullshields at Queen’s Park

Fawnda Bullshields is from the Blood reserve in Southern Alberta. She works for Squamish Nation as a social justice social worker and teaches powwow lessons and beading. Watch Fawnda teach her students the beautiful, athletic, Lady’s Fancy Shawl Dance, where graceful dancers wear colourful fringed shawls that sway with each movement.

July 29, 2021 12:00 pm – Ribbon Skirt Making with Christy David at Centennial Lodge

Christy David grew up in British Columbia and is a survivor of the Sixties Scoop. She will be sewing an orange ribbon skirt to honour the children and lives lost in Residential Schools. Come listen to the stories and meanings in the fabrics. 

July 30, 2021 6:30 pm – Stand-Up Comedy, Poetry and Storytelling with Mitchell Saddleback at Queen’s Park

Mitchell Saddleback is a Vancouver-based actor, writer, comedian and storyteller from the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. He co-wrote and starred in The Bannocking, a horror web series featuring an all-Indigenous cast on CBC Gem, and has featured in films and theatre shows including Cold Pursuit, Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, and Pawâkan Macbeth. Mitchell’s stand-up comedy and poetry night offers brand new poems with insight into pursuing the arts while Indigenous. Join us for a delightful night of wit, empathy, and reflection.

August 12, 2021 12:00 pm – Fabric Designs and Moccassin construction with Kaija Heitland (Online only)

Kaija Heitland is a Vancouver-based tattooer, beadworker and fabric artist from the Cowichan Valley Métis Nation. Her designs showcase the unique patterns, arts, culture, and history of her people. Her company, Indigenous Nouveau, brings greater visibility for her people in British Columbia. Join Kaija online as she shares her design process and watch her incorporate Indigenous values into all aspects of her fabric production!

Artist Biographies

S^yowah (Son/yo/wa)/Timothy Elijah, Indigenous Curator

Shekoli! (Greetings in Oneida)

S^yowah (Son/yo/wa), Tim (he/him/his) is a proud member of the Onyota’aka (Oneida of the Thames First Nation) Nation located outside of London Ontario. He is from a specific Bear Clan family known for their connections to the forests and trees.

S^yowah would like to acknowledge that he is a visitor and a guest on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Nations. With much love and respect, he is grateful for this opportunity to be here.

Tim has been a traditional storyteller from the time he could speak and read. He has fallen in love with the teachings and lessons that are taught within each legend and story that has been passed down from generation to generation. He would like to thank the listeners for participating in Reconciliation. S^yowah believes that in order to resolve the conflicts and issues between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians we need to listen, forgive, love and work together as one. Through his stories and legends, S^yowah believes the gifts of knowledge are there for all Humans and of the creations on this earth.

In the traditional words of S^yowah’s people: Yaw^ko ne Eso:Kunolunkwah swahkwako!! ( All of you are a great medicine to me/ I have love for you and I thank you very much).

Cameron Peal

Cameron Peal is a Vancouver based artist hailing proudly from the Nisga’a Nation. His work is primarily theatre based (acting, directing, writing), but because he can’t make up his mind, he also paints and writes poetry. As an artist, his goal is to tell and share stories, because “what gift lasts longer than a good story”? He recently finished an Artist’s Residency with Gwaandak Theatre, developing a new play about dying. Other recent credits include: Narrator/Production Coordinator – Indigenous Cities (Savage Society), Assistant to the Director – She Sells Seashells (United Players), Ensemble/Person B – Reframed (Electric Company Theatre), MC/Host – Backyard Sessions (Savage Society), Creator/Playwright – The Transformation Project (National Arts Centre, Pi Theatre), and Assistant to the Director – Urinetown the Musical (Studio 58). Actor/director/writer, trained at Studio 58.

Fawnda Bullshields

Oki (“Hello” in Blackfoot). My name is Fawnda Bullshields. I am from the Blood reserve in Southern Alberta. I work for Squamish Nation in Child and Family Services as a social justice social worker and teach powwow lessons and beading when possible. My language is Blackfoot and I come from a long line of matriarchs and chiefs that fostered and implemented Indigenous law in my community before colonization. Indigenous Law is but not limited to respecting the land and becoming a good steward of the land. How I navigate the world is based on my teachings as an Indigenous Woman and how I contribute to the world in a good way. With that being said my work and passion is to dismantle colonization within colonial frameworks. Creating spaces for Indigenous, Black and People of Color who are not only the presenters but the curators and knowledge keeps.

Mitchell Saddleback

Mitchell Saddleback is a Vancouver-based actor, writer, comedian and storyteller from the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. You may know him from the films Cold Pursuit or First Cow. Highlights of his past theatre experience include Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish (Axis Theatre), Pawâkan Macbeth (Akpik Theatre) and Irreparable Harm? A Tale of Trans Mountain Resistance (Mairy Beam for Vancouver Fringe Festival). Mitchell has enjoyed being a workshop director with imagi’NATION Collective and cast member in the Indigenous youth suicide awareness play Beneath the Surface. Mitchell co-wrote and stars in the horror web series, The Bannocking, which features an all-Indigenous cast in partnership with CBC Gem.

Mitchell’s spoken word and stand-up comedy have been met with enthusiastic acclaim at various venues and events across Vancouver and beyond, including The Drum is Calling Festival, New Moon Comedy, and Poetry Burlesque. As a passionate proponent of the arts, Mitchell has always known that his place is within that realm. He continues to accept opportunities that emphasize the importance of the arts, education and advocacy. Mitchell’s uncanny knack for bringing characters to life, regardless of gender, age and other distinctions, is evidenced by the diversity of his roles. He utilizes the arts as a catalyst for critical social change, approaching each project with a high level of commitment and professionalism. Whether it is through comedy, horror, drama or otherwise, Mitchell’s acting ability and love for his craft is undeniable in every performance.

Christy David

Christy David grew up in British Columbia, and her traditional artwork can be found across North America. Christy David creates moccasins, beaded earrings, and ribbon skirts. Her work has been accepted and featured in various ceremonies such as Sweat lodges and Pow Wows.

Christy David attended the University of Regina. Her time here inspired her to join sharing circles where she was able to express her creative talents and celebrate her heritage by passing on her artistic skills. It was during that time that Christy David hosted pouch workshops and beading workshops for both youth and Elders in her community. Her form of expression goes beyond handiwork. For over 36 years Christy David has danced in traditional women’s Pow Wows. Her continuous dedication to her projects, her love of art, and passing on meaningful traditions are what root her in her journey of reclamation.

Catch her on the big screen! Christy David recently played an elder in the film “Kiri and the Girl”

Kaija Heitland

My name is Kaija Heitland and I belong to the Cowichan Valley Métis Nation and am currently living in Vancouver where I work as a full time tattooer, beadworker and fabric artist. I’ve been professionally doing graphic design for about 10 years, and tattooing for over 15 and beadwork for my entire life. As a craftsperson with a lifelong love of our traditional arts, I am now translating those designs into graphic work that can be enjoyed by all including fabric, moccasins, jewellery and regalia. In my work, I focus on animals, plant medicine, and traditional food plants. These designs are an important part of our rich culture of storytelling.

I began my company, Indigenous Nouveau, as a platform to help to facilitate a greater visibility for Métis who reside in British Columbia, to showcase our very unique beadwork and quillwork patterns, arts culture and history. My modern beadwork print fabrics are designed by me and I work with local Canadian manufacturers to produce an ecologically sound product, instilling fading traditional Indigenous values into commerce and the Indigenous arts industry, where we see more and more un-indigenous values of capitalism and corporate ownership dominating our own. The ribbon skirt represents to me a unique avenue to be able to humanize and build bridges and conversation between the Settlers of this country and the People who originally belonged to Turtle Island. The Métis, with a foot in both worlds, represent real mediators in this necessary dialogue which can only result in healing and resolution.

Expressions of Reclamation is supported by the Deux Mille Foundation