To North York, With Love,  

It is with a mix of emotions that I write to you today to share some news: after several years of incredible experiences, I will be bidding farewell to my role at North York Arts. 

Since the spring of 2016, I have had the immense privilege of being part of this vibrant organization. I started at NYA as an intern, new to arts administration and a newcomer to Canada, here I found a supportive community that made me feel at home. The journey has been filled with inspiring collaborations, and the opportunity to contribute to the rich cultural tapestry of North York. 

During my time here, I have been fortunate to work alongside a team of dedicated staff, volunteers, artists, and partners who share a passion for nurturing creativity and fostering artistic endeavors. Together, we have brought numerous programs and events to life for the North York communities. 

While it is bittersweet to say goodbye, I am filled with gratitude for the invaluable experiences and relationships I have gained during my time. The lessons learned and memories made will always hold a special place. So today I thought I would share with you 3 programs at NYA that have shaped my career while working at NYA:

My Art, My New Land – In 2016, as I embarked on my arts administration career as a newcomer, there was a movement from immigrant and newcomer artists advocating for enhanced support and services within the arts community for themselves and their peers. 

During this time, ‘My Art, My New Land’ emerged as bridging program for newcomer artists to better understand the Canadian arts landscape, spearheaded and created by at the time North York based artist Aitak Sorahitalab.This program served as a valuable introduction to the Canadian arts landscape for newcomer artists, with North York Arts proudly stepping in as a partner for its inaugural edition.

NYA has continued its role in supporting newcomer artists on their journeys, recognizing their importance and the profound impact they have on the artistic landscape.

Art Connects – In 2019, our team at NYA (we were four at the time) led internally by Melissa Foster, gathered in a circle with Elder Joanne Dellaire and Indigenous leaders and artists Veronica Johnny and Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone. We delved into a crucial question: ‘As a non-Indigenous organization, what can we do to support the process of decolonization and build the right relations with Indigenous communities?’

Those conversations left a lasting impression on me, I still hold in me a lot of what was shared during those circles, striving to honor those teachings in my work.

Art Connects has consisted of multiple components and phases, all of which have centered Indigenous artists. Truth and reconciliation is a continued process and there are missteps and mistakes that will happen, they are inevitable. But I’m proud of the strides the organization has made in addressing the initial question posed at the start of this project. I trust that the work to build right relations with Indigenous artists and communities will continue.

Mapping Our Neighbourhoods – Narrowing down three projects from the multitude NYA has produced and partnered on during my time here wasn’t an easy task. I found myself constantly changing my choices because there are just so many impactful programs. However, Mapping Our Neighbourhoods will always hold a special place in my heart.

2020 and 2021 were difficult years. On top of everything, we were grappling with how to create meaningful online programming amidst a global pandemic. A lot of wonderful arts programming emerged during that time including NYA’s animation program for seniors (another favourite of mine).

The Mapping Our Neighbourhoods program was born out of discussions on how to keep youth engaged and employed in the arts during those years. It remains one of my personal favorites, go check out the short film and illustrated map that were created by youth through the program. Created through collaborative brainstorming with my colleague Julian Carvajal, Mapping Our Neighbourhoods provides a platform for young creatives to collaborate with lead professional artists, crafting art pieces that reflect their unique stories about North York neighborhoods. 

From all of us at North York Arts, we’re extending a huge thank you to Cecilia for all of her hard work and dedication to our artists, programs and community. Cecilia is focused, dedicated, leads with integrity and care and has been deeply appreciated and respected by artists, partners, co-workers, volunteers and Board members. These traits will be so valuable in her career ahead. Cecilia – we will miss you and wish nothing but the best in your future endeavors. THANK YOU!!