Summer 2021 Cohort
Nicole Achtymichuk (she/her) is an emerging curator of Ukrainian and Dutch descent. She was born on Treaty 7 territory and has resided on stolen lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ lands since 2016. Nicole holds a B.Sc. in Anthropology from the University of Victoria, and is committed to decolonizing institutions by rethinking how space and resources are used.
I am a Coast Salish artist from Victoria, BC. I grew up surrounded by artistic and creative people which has inspired me to become an artist myself. I draw from stories, myths and cultural teachings.
I incorporate Coast Salish formline with nature and realism in acrylic paint, my preferred medium. Painting has always been a passion of mine.
I learned how to paint in high school and then worked on murals in Victoria. I continue learning from mentors and teaching myself techniques. Through my artwork I connect to my roots as an Indigenous woman.
I use art to share my thoughts, ideas, and to evolve as an artist.
Hi there! My name is April Gallicano and I have lived on the unceded territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ and lək̓ʷəŋən Nations my entire life. My ancestry is mixed European and South Asian, which is sometimes where I get my inspiration from, but most of my work is inspired by the natural world around us. Over the past year I have been reconnecting with my passion for creating things with my hands, and I have been getting drawn to fiber arts and painting. What was once a hobby of mine is now a large part of my life, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my work with you.
Bekah Hagan Ahenda
Bekah (she/her) is a writer, artist, and local pastor who loves meaningful conversations, not taking herself too seriously, and the Fast and the Furious movies.
She and her husband Mark gratefully make their home at the base of PKOLS, the sacred space which lies between W̱SÁNEĆ and lək̓ʷəŋən traditional territory. She is of English, Italian, and Russian Mennonite descent. Ahenda is her husband’s last name and he is of Luo (Kenyan) and German Mennonite descent.
Bekah is a recovering overachiever with high functioning anxiety which is not a great combo but she’s figuring out how to slow down and leave behind the teachings and beliefs that hold her (and us) back through art and community.
Her core values are healing, hope, vulnerability, and friendship.
Sophie Ladd is an Art History Master’s student at the University of Victoria. She will be graduating in April 2022 and her main interest and hope is to work with in Community and Youth programming. That is how she found herself involved with ECAH starting in February 2021. Sophie has always had an interest in Indigenous issues and arts, growing stronger these past few years. When the opportunity came to join the Art of Reconciliation program, she felt it was an pivotal chance to learn with and from peers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous).
Emma was born and raised in Victoria British-Columbia (traditional lək̓ʷəŋən territory). She is a nineteen-year-old performer, writer, and artist. In June 2021, she graduated with a Diploma of Performing Arts from the Canadian College of Performing Arts, and will continue pursuing her passion for music with Berklee College of Music Online in the Fall. Emma loves many artistic disciplines, usually focusing on performing and writing, but also visual arts. She enjoys painting with acrylic paint and creating mixed media pieces. Emma also enjoys fashion, design, and makeup artistry. She finds nature very inspiring, including flowers, rain, ocean, and stars. In Emma’s art, there are often people or faces, nature and symbolism, bright colours, and a variety of textures.
Spring 2022 Cohort
Hi there! My name is Aleah and I respectfully acknowledge that the land I grew up on the Unceded Traditional Territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, the traditional keepers of this land. For the past 6 years I have been a student at the University of Victoria, located on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən people, working my way through a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and statistics. During my time at UVic, I played on the UVIC Women’s Basketball team, where I learned so many valuable life skills and met so many amazing people. I have just finished up my eligibility to play college basketball, so I my hobbies have transitioned from basketball to more relaxing activities such as art, which is one of the reasons I decided to participate in the art of reconciliation. Another reason I wanted to participate in this program was to reconnect with my Cree heritage and learn from indigenous leaders and other participants on how to do that in a respectful and meaningful way. It was such a pleasure to be a part of this program, and has left me with more knowledge, awareness, mindfulness, and confidence then I could have ever asked for!
Hi, my name is Alyssa Jackson (she/they), I’m a settler born in the USA with Swiss descent. I’m a political science student at the University of Victoria.
My hometown is Camas, Washington, named after the Camas lily which has an edible bulb that was stewarded for food and trade by many Indigenous peoples across the Pacific Northwest.
I’m deeply grateful for my time spent on the stolen and unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples. I focus my studies and activism on learning how to disrupt and dismantle colonial structures of power. I am kind, proud and fearless.
Emma Ronayne (she/her) was raised and lives on the unceded traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ and lək̓ʷəŋən peoples. She is of mixed settler and Indigenous ancestry. Participating in the Art of Reconciliation program offered a space to begin a journey of reconnection with her grandmother and other ancestors whom she did not meet. She is a student in UVic’s Master of Public Health program and is studying Indigenous health. Her background is in anthropology. She plans to do her thesis in community-based Indigenous health research.
Jadyn is a recent graduate in Biology and Earth & Ocean Science from the University of Victoria. She is originally from Calgary, Alberta. She is passionate about ecological conservation and the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge in conservation policy and ecosystem management. She channels her creativity through dance, song, yoga, writing and other mixed medias. Participating in the AoR has allowed her to explore intentional art, and she looks forward to continuing her journey in reconciliation as the program comes to an end.
Lindsay Van Rooyen
Lindsay Van Rooyen is a Fine Arts major and Business minor at the University of Victoria and she will be starting her second academic year in the fall of 2022. A dedication to academics and artistic expressions has earned her a UVIC Excellence Scholarship. Her primary medium is digital art and photography with an emphasis on capturing the essence of the natural world. Lindsay has participated in numerous art shows over the past five years, which included the Collective Voices Student Art Show and the Sooke Fine Art Show where she won first place and honourable mentions respectively.
Malachi Cress is an aspiring artist and wildlife photographer with Ojibway roots from Pic River First Nation in Ontario. Malachi came to lək̓ʷəŋən and WSANEC territory in 2021 and is grateful to be a guest on this land. Malachi enjoys spending time outdoors connecting with the land and traveling across what is colonially known as “Canada”. In the future, Malachi hopes to continue pursuing opportunities related to both art and photography and is grateful to all who show appreciation for his work.
My name is Mitchell Bay but you can call me Mitch because if you’re reading this… you are my friend, and only my friends can call me Mitch! I was born in lək̓ʷəŋən territory in the city more widely known as Victoria in the Summer of 1994. My Mother brought me into this world with love and ever since that day she has protected me… but also, ever since that day I have felt like a defective piece of a puzzle. Shortly after I was born, I moved up island and I always felt lost. I always felt scared. I have been unable to shake those feelings completely, but I hope one day to contribute to a world where people don’t have to feel them. At one point in time, I genuinely felt that the world would be a far better place without me. I can now say that this is not true. I found myself in art. I found myself in music. I found myself in many different places performing my music due to my passions. As a result of this all, I found where my voice was. I found myself in friends who came to me when I had nothing. I found myself in a name that those friends gave me as they carved out the strength within me. I now carry that strength on this earth and give it to others when I can. I do so knowing that I stand for what is right. I do so knowing it is my duty to open the eyes of those who say they cannot see, I do so knowing that it is my duty to protect the unprotected, and I do so while knowing that I serve a purpose. I can say now that I am free. I can now say that at this point, I only wish to make my fellow human free as well. I will start with art.
Natalie Blecha is a recent graduate with a B. Eng. in Civil Engineering at University of Victoria in May 2022. She has Czech ancestry, and has lived on stolen lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ lands since 2011. As an artist, she works primarily in beadwork and embroidery.
Nicole Geary is a Sahtu-Dene artist who strives to create art with themes of empowerment and positivity. Nicole was born and raised on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory before moving out to lək̓ʷəŋən and WSANEC territory in 2018. Her journey to reconnecting with her culture has helped her to grow in countless ways and allowed her to gain confidence in her identity as a strong Indigenous woman. Learning about the ways colonization has shaped her life and continues to impact her Indigenous kin across Turtle Island inspires Nicole to do anything she can to make a positive difference in the communities around her. Nicole works in the not-for-profit sector and enjoys beading and connecting with the land in her spare time. If you’d like to support her work, she can be found on Instagram and Facebook @beadedlegacy.
Vansdon (he/him) is a passionate thinker who spends much of his time reading books and learning new skills.
His field of study (sociology) explores a variety of social dilemmas such as collective effervescence and recent movements like Qanon and BLM.
Much to everyone’s understanding, these movements may or may not have an impact to their lives, but they have probably heard about it due to the massive support in social media.
The reason he joined the program was to gather more information about the indigenous cultural icebergs and seek the truth of the matter instead of the representations of institutions.