An image of the mural created in partnership with Lindsey Lickers, with 4 icons on the sides, and a translucent image of a strawberry heart and a willow tree.

Art Connects

Art Connects is an ongoing initiative that started in 2019 to address North York Arts’ role in Truth and Reconciliation. As North York Arts builds programs, partnerships, and relationships, we continue to ask ourselves “As a non-Indigenous organization, what can we do to support the process of decolonization and build the right relations with Indigenous communities?”

Art Connects has consisted of multiple components and phases, all of which center Indigenous experience and teachings.

  1. 2019NYA received funds from the Government of Canada’s Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anit-Rascism Initatives Program, and have their first consultations with Elder Joanne and Indigenous Leaders Veronica and Aqua to discuss action items and next steps. 
  2. 2020
  3. NYA board meets with Elder Joanne to discuss the role of the board in making change, and NYA hosts community consultations and staff participate in Medicine Wheel teachings. 
  4. 2021 NYA hosts four Indigenous talks (I-talks). The Spirit World with Lindsey Lickers, Moon and Water Teachings with Grandmother Reneé Thomas-Hill, Healing with the Land with Veronica Johnny, Sacred Medicines in Times of Healing with Elizabeth Akiwenzie
  5. May 2022NYA hosts seven Indigenous talks. Introduction to the Series led by Lindsey Lickers, Understanding Treaty Part 1&2 led by Jason Mercredi, Understanding North York led by Chyler Sewell & Daniel Rotsztain, Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 1 led by Carolyn King, Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 2 led by James Carpenter & Raiden Levesque, Indigenous Stewardship, Symbolism & Art led by Lindsey Lickers
  6. June 2022Community members and program participants come together to create a collaborative mural led and designed by Lindsey Lickers. Each participant adds uses their teachings to add a “bead” to the Two-Row Wampum Belt.
  7. Fall 2022Art Connects Everyone, Everywhere is launched. Three Indigenous artists will lead workshops in North York to bring Indigenous teachings to non-Indigenous community members and North York Residents. 

North York Arts is committed to continue working along Indigenous peoples to deepen our understanding and to bring truth to our programs.

Stay tuned for our upcoming activations this fall.

Art Connects Everyone, Everywhere!

Workshops led by Indigenous Artists and Performers in Treaty 13

We will be hosting three pop-up workshops led by Indigenous Artists and Performers from Treaty 13. These workshops will share knowledge and teachings at pop-up educational Indigenous programs at the Gibson House and other North York locations. Workshops will feature Indigenous teachings from all mediums and will incorporate Indigenous knowledge into the creation of public art and performance. 


I-talks, Ideation, Art Creation 2022

The motivation for I-Talks is to foster spaces of deep conversation; where we can discuss our relationships to the land, and water, the body, legacies of colonialism, while connecting to one another.

I-talks 1: Introduction to the series

Facilitated by Lindsey Lickers, the introduction of I-Talks will introduce the intentions of the space and the aims of the project. Lindsey will lead a discussion on the significance of relationships in relation to land stewardship. This workshop will focus on the impacts of colonialism on relationships, leaving participants with the question: How do we centre truth-telling in rebuilding our connections?

Lindsey Lickers

Lead Artist of Art Connects 2021-22

I-talks 2: Understanding Treaty: Part 1

Understanding Treaty: Part 1 is the first step of a deep dive into the meaning of treaties & Indigenous lawmaking. Facilitated by Jason Mercredi, will focus on treaties covering North York and surrounding areas. He will discuss how treaties can, and do or don’t, guide communities, caretaking, and natural law. Participants will be invited to reflect on what the Dish with One Spoon treaty means beyond a simple, or standard, land acknowledgment.

Jason Mercredi

Misipawistik Cree Nation, Ininnu descent

I-talks 3: Understanding Treaty: Part 2

Jason Mercredi is continuing the deep dive established in Part 1, with his facilitation of Understanding Treaty: Part 2. This workshop broadens and deepens the conversation on the meaning of treaties and Indigenous law-making. Participants will be invited to continue their reflection with the question: How can the lessons from treaties guide the ability to caretake for our land and community? 

Jason Mercredi

Misipawistik Cree Nation, Ininnu descent

I-talks 4: Understanding North York

Chyler Sewell and Daniel Rotsztain will facilitate their workshop, Understanding North York, in the form of a conversation. Chyler and Daniel will share stories about the various walks they took together in North York and surrounding areas. Focusing the history of land usage in this area, and how it has changed since contact, Chyler and Daniel explore personal reflections on the waterway’s significant landmarks and role in the community.

Chyler Sewell

Anishinaabekwe Youth

Daniel Rotsztain

Urban Geographer, artist, writer and cartographer

I-talks 5: Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 1

Facilitator Carolyn King will discuss traditional perspectives on the importance of land caretaking, original instructions, and the importance of the ceremony. Carolyn will share with participants how women’s roles, rites, and responsibilities are intertwined with land and water.

Carolyn King

Former elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

I-talks 6: Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 2

A continuation of Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 1, facilitators GREY CLOUD and Raiden Levesque will lead participants through Our Responsibilities to Water & Land: Part 2. Building off of Carolyn’s facilitation, this workshop will deepen and expand the discussion of traditional perspectives on the importance of land caretaking, original instructions, and the importance of ceremony. GREY CLOUD and Raiden will invite participants to explore the question: How are the roles, rights, and responsibilities of myself and my community intertwined with land and water? 


Indigenous Traditional Healer and Oshkabewis (Helper)

Raiden Levesque

Oshkabewis (helper), Traditional Knowledge keeper, and Fire Keeper

I-talks 7: Indigenous Stewardship, Symbolism & Art

During Indigenous Stewardship, Symbolism & Art, Facilitator Lindsey Lickers, will recap the previous workshops, exploring how the knowledge generated during I-talks impacts our ideas of placemaking. Lindsey will move participants through an overview of Indigenous visual storytelling, leaving participants with the question: How do we tell stories today?

Lindsey Lickers

Multi-media Artist, Arts Facilitator and Program Developer

I-talks 2021

The Spirit World

Lindsey Lickers is a Haudenosaunee/ Anishinaabe multi-media artist, arts facilitator, and program developer originally from Six Nations of the Grand River with ancestral roots to the Mississaugas of the Credit. Her traditional name is ‘Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe’, which translates to ‘Medicine Water Woman’ and she is of the turtle clan. Recently, she was awarded a commission to create a permanent public installation for the Region of Waterloo’s light rail transit system that will speak to the historical stewardship of the land base of Waterloo and the importance of agriculture from a First Nations perspective.

Lindsey Lickers

Multi-media Artist, Arts Facilitator and Program Developer

Moon and Water Teachings

Grandmother Renee was born into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Grand River Territory; She honours her lineage, Mother- Cayuga Bear & that of her Father Mohawk Turtle; As a Haudenosaunee woman, her role in life is a Carrier of our Heritage; Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother & auntie to many; Educator, Historian, Lecturer/Teacher, Wisdom Keeper; Cultural Consultant

Grandmother Reneé Thomas-Hill

Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory

Healing with the Land

North York Arts & IndigenEd (Indigenous Education for all) present Connect to Nature – an Eco-Art Workshop with Veronica Johnny.

Veronica Johnny is a Cree-Métis, multidisciplinary, two-spirit artist from the Northwest Territories. A hand drummer and rock singer, she’s also a songwriter, visual artist and writer. Veronica facilitates culturally-informed arts-education workshops, with a matriarchal lens, and focuses her creative energies on natural healing modalities.

This workshop includes talking about the land we are on; connecting with the earth and water; an eco-art activity and a drum song performance

Veronica Johnny

Workshop Facilitator, Indigenous Woman Entrepreneur, @IndigenEd

Sacred Medicines in Times of Healing

Nististange we (understanding women)
Anishabek moswin. Her Oneida name is Dayyayutdoladoe – Haudenosaunee from turtle clan from her mother’s Nation.

Liz Akiwenzie
Cultural Educator/ Knowledge Keeper
Ojibway and Oneida

She has been working in the helping field for almost 40 years. She has a Social worker background, she is a ceremonial person, Lodge conductor, cultural Educator for educators and caregivers, Cultural knowledge keeper for Native Communities, Healer and medicine person.

Elizabeth Akiwenzie

Cultural Educator/ Knowledge Keeper Ojibway and Oneida

Art Connects 2021 – 2022

As a continuation of NYA’s 2019 training program, we are focusing on projects that aim to connect the local North York community with the environment and history of the land in which it lives, works, and plays on. A series of Indigenous and non-Indigenous research tools and community workshops will inform a public art installation created by Haudenosaunee/ Anishinaabe multi-media artist, Lindsey Lickers.

Lead Artist

Lindsey Lickers
‘Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe’

Art Connects 2019 – 2020

Art Connects began as a cultural competency training program for NYA staff, board, and community partners. The program addressed how North York Arts can better incorporate/adapt to some of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The program was done in two phases:

1. A series of consultations between NYA staff and board, an Elder and Indigenous leaders

2. Community conferences with other arts organizations to share NYA’s findings and discuss our role as a sector.

Program Consultants :

Elder Joanne Dellaire

Veronica Johnny

Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone

Art Connects Outcomes: 

  • An organizational commitment to authenticity, education, and balance
  • Development of a new land acknowledgment 
  • Received funds to develop our Art Connects Public Art Project
  • Plans to write an environmental policy
  • Shared knowledge and understanding within the arts sector
  1. Sep 2019NYA received funds from the Government of Canada’s Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anit-Rascism Initatives Program
  2. Oct 2019NYA staff have their first consultation with Elder Joanne and Indigenous leaders Veronica and Aqua.
  3. Dec 2019NYA staff have their second consultation to discuss action steps
  4. Jan 2020NYA board meets with Elder Joanne to discuss the role of the board in making change
  5. Jan 2020 NYA hosts a community Consultation with our sister Local Arts Service Organizations (LASO)
  6. Feb 2020NYA partners with PAONE to host a second community consultation
  7. Apr 2020NYA Staff participate in Medicine Wheel teaching
  8. May 2020Program evaluation by Maria Montejo
Funded By:

About Us

North York Arts (NYA)  collaborates with artists, arts organizations, and partners to develop, strengthen, and promote cultural programming and initiatives for North York communities

Contact us 

North York Arts
5040 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON, M2N 6R8


Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm

Join Our Network
Meet Julián

Julián Carvajal (he/him) is a Toronto-based award-winner creator & producer of experiences. This Queer Latinx Colombian Canadian Arts Manager/Producer has over 21 years of experience managing, curating and delivering arts festivals and cultural events. He is the Event Producer of the largest PanAmerican Food and Music Festival in Canada, Mentor in Residence at the Neighbourhood Arts Network while working at North York Arts, StreetARToronto and producing “In My Element(s) Symposia” for ArtWorkxTO.

Julián has collaborated with organizations and artists from 5 continents on multiple artistic projects. He has mentored over 400 self-identified artists for the past 10 years. He is passionate about building meaningful relationships; helping others to navigate the art sector in the city while collaborating with others to co-create an anti-oppressive and more diverse and inclusive vision of the art sector in Tkaronto.

What does art mean to you?

The Big Bang of my life