March 22, 2021 · Issue 2: Space(s)


For Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, the pandemic deepened pre-existing inequities. The aid that settler-colonial systems offered did not account for (or value) the importance of physical and spiritual spaces for Indigenous communities. Locally, urban Indigenous youth who were just beginning to learn about their culture were suddenly denied access to spaces they needed in order to be in relationship with each other and with the land. Building relationships with the land and with each other in a face-to-face way is an important part of reconnection and healing; removing these connections deeply impacted Indigenous youth and made it necessary to adapt art projects accordingly.

To navigate this, Textile supported Pins and Needles Fabric Company, an Indigenous inter-arts company in Waterloo Region, in co-designing an art program with Indigenous youth. Through online talking circles and in-person meetings with appropriate physical distancing, youth considered the following questions: How is Indigeneity (re)claimed or denied during this pandemic? How does physical distancing and self-quarantine impact relationships to the land and to the community?

Based on conversations on how youth wanted to express themselves, participants were delivered art-kits containing supplies to make tile art on wood panels to respond to these questions. The following feature shares artwork from two of the seven youth who engaged in this program.


By Dewe'igan Bearfoot

Dawaa is an Anishnaabemowin word meaning: “There is a space.” For the longest time, I tried to figure out how to incorporate all of the spaces I wanted in my piece. From the sacred fire, to the land back camp, to the sweat lodge, to my home. There was so much. I felt the word Dawaa (written in traditional syllabics on the bottom) covered everything with the simple phrase “There is a space.” However, I also wanted to focus on the place I feel safest, my meditation. This is where I got the idea for the figure in the centre. It’s meant to be a depiction of me, floating through space I fall into whenever I meditate. This is my space and every space in between.


By Olivia Maine

It started with the idea of reconnection, space and time. Finding the ability to reconnect to my culture after so long and with little resources until fairly recently has been a struggle and has meant many sleepless nights. This journey led me to a small space in the world that makes me feel as though I belong. Along with space inside myself where the fire inside that spurs me forward grows stronger, as I recall that every little piece of knowledge and teachings is an act of resistance and healing. With every sunrise I feel more and more whole and in balance. This time to strive for my cultural heritage has been so important. The symbols and colours represent this growth and journey that I have been able to take as the world outside grinds to a bit of a halt.