Recognizing Amazing Art

Our community will soon welcome an expected 100+ Indigenous curators, artists, and academics participating in the first northern gathering of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. The collective is a national service organization of Indigenous curators and artists from across this land now known as Canada.

The collective was created in response to the dominating non-native curatorial practice across North America.

Over the past 10 years, the collective’s membership has grown, representing many indigenous curators and artists. People in the collective have chosen Whitehorse, the traditional territory of the Ta’an Kwäch’än and Kwanlin Dün First Nations, to hold its seventh bi-annual gathering, which takes place Sept. 28 to 30 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre.

With the intention of honouring northern nations, the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective decided to call this year’s gathering Kwän Mày Dáyè Dàátth’i, which in Southern Tutchone means Sit by the Fire with Us.

This theme, Kwän Mày Dáyè Dàátth’i, embodies the collective’s intention of making this gathering open to non-members, inviting each of the 14 Yukon First Nations to participate.  

The fire has always represented a meeting place for many cultures.

Using the symbol of the fire, this conference in Whitehorse will be the first gathering of the collective with a focus on community engagement with Indigenous ways of teaching.  This means that Indigenous conversational models will be used, such as sharing circles and witnessings. Topics up for discussion include economics in cultural and artistic production, communities as places of production, inter-generational communication and portable cultures.

The collective’s press release states “the focus of this event is on North and South coming together to share and exchange ideas about Indigenous curatorial practices, cultural production and art-making.

With this, the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective’s Gathering will unite southern Indigenous curators and academics with northern Indigenous curators and artists. It will draw in new audiences into a greater conversation about what it means to be Indigenous and how this can be represented in art, art-making, curation, exhibition, and installation. Whether you are an aspiring Indigenous curator or a local artist – join us in the conversation.

Kwän Mày Dáyè Dàátth’i: Sit by the Fire With Us opens with an honouring feast to acknowledge invited Elder curators, artists and makers.

For more information on how to attend the feast or register for the gathering go to

The Aboriginal Curatorial Collective’s sister organization, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, will take place October 1 to 3 on the Traditional Territory of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, in Haines Junction. All are invited to attend.

Art Shows in Whitehorse Featuring First Nation Artists

As this is a gathering of curators and artists, it is fitting that local galleries participate in this event by showcasing Indigenous curators and art.

Local galleries participating include:

The Yukon Arts Centre is exhibiting Our Home is Our Gallery, curated by New BC Indian Art and Welfare Society Collective. This show features works from both the Yukon Government’s and Yukon Arts Centre’s Permanent Art Collections, as well as personal items on loan from private collectors.

Arts Underground is exhibiting two shows curated by Jennifer Bowen (Dene): Hands of Time: Bush Women on the Land, which is a group show featuring Blair Thorson, Arlene Ness, Dolores Scheffen, Amber Walker, and Heather Callaghan; and the solo show My Healing Journey, featuring works by Kaska artist Mary Caesar.

The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre is exhibiting a show called Our Past is Our Inspiration, curated by Ukjese Van Kampen (Tutchone) highlighting the works of Yukon Indigenous artists that use an aspect of their cultural past in their present-day artworks. This exhibition will feature Jackie Olsen (Gwich’in) from Dawson City, Dennis Shorty (Kaska) from Ross River, Doug Smarch Jr. (Inland Tlingit) from Teslin, Frances Oles (Southern Tutchone) from Haines Junction, and the curator himself.

The Northern Front Studio gallery space is exhibiting Shelley Niro: Buffet curated by Lori Beavis (Hiawatha First Nation), which features work created by Haudenosaunee artist Shelley Niro from the years 2012 to 2016.

Finally, the Yukon Legislative Assembly Lobby is exhibiting a portion of the Yukon’s Permanent Art Collection chosen by students of the University of Victoria Curatorship course offered this past February in Whitehorse.

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