Canada 150 youth initiative:

Contemporary Indigenous art

Illustration: Ojibway Dreams (Young Girl in Dream) Arthur Shilling, “Ojibway Dreams (Young Girl in Dream)”, ca. 1984, oil on board, 76 x 102 cm. © Estate of Arthur Shilling. Photo: Michael Cullen, TPG Digital Arts, Toronto

Visual Arts is one topic that has had much success in grabbing the attention of students and people in general. The vast array of artistic media used to display a story or thought process in a visual way can be very intriguing. That appeal may be through an attractive colour palette, an emotional connection or just an awe of how a method is achieved.

In addition to a visual interest, another way that can get students more involved is being able to add their own stamp on a creation. That is why the youth workshops being offered at the
MacLaren Art Centre are a worthwhile venture. The workshops will be very beneficial for students and are worthy of encouraging participation.

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, will be offering a special youth initiative made possible by a grant from the Community Fund. In partnership with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre and Beausoleil First Nation Springwater Park, the gallery will offer an innovative youth program this spring focusing on contemporary Indigenous art.

A Saturday program will be offered for youth between the ages of 14 to 18 to participate in a series of six free workshops led by contemporary Indigenous artists and curators. This couldn’t be better timing with two of its upcoming exhibitions opening this spring, Arthur Shilling: Final Works (renowned Anishinaabe artist from Rama, Ontario) and Call to Action #83 (Reconciliation Project bringing together eight Indigenous and eight non-Indigenous Simcoe County artists).

The goal of this program is for youth (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to create art under the guidance of contemporary Indigenous artists exploring a number of relevant themes pertaining to Indigenous visual culture, values and myths. The objectives of this special initiative are to foster the artistic development of youth and to nurture their understanding of contemporary Indigenous visual culture through discussions, workshops and exhibition programming. Youth will be engaged in discussion with each contributor, experience a hands-on visual arts workshop and, with their families, have the opportunity to engage with guest curators and artists that includes exhibition and collection tours. Other outcomes include a series of hands-on workshops informed by this project and developed for the MacLaren studio program in the schools, and an educational kit on contemporary Canadian Indigenous art with curriculum links to visual art, history and social studies.

The weekly program runs every Saturday from March 25–May 6, 2017 at the MacLaren Art Centre. Spots will be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. To register for the youth workshops or to find out more on the Canada 150 Youth initiative, call Christina Mancuso, Education Officer, at 705-721-9696 ext. 234 or email

Gallery hours for the MacLaren Art Centre, in Barrie are Monday to Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., closed Statutory Holidays.

For all other information on the MacLaren Art Centre, visit

Tour of “past now” at the MacLaren led by contemporary Indigenous artist Luke Parnell, 2011

Arthur Shilling, “Ojibway Dreams (Self-portrait)”, ca. 1985, oil on board, 152 x 103 cm. © Estate of Arthur Shilling. Photo: Michael Cullen, TPG Digital Arts, Toronto

MacLaren Youth workshop with contemporary Indigenous artist Melissa General, 2016

Clayton Samuel King (Waab Shki Makoons, New Little White Bear), “G’chi Manidoo Giizis (Big Spirit Moon)”, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 51 x 64 cm. Courtesy of Barrie Native Friendship Centre

About Ronda Allan
Ronda Allan is the Managing Editor of Education Forum and and works at Provincial Office as Publications Manager/Editorial Assistant.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.