Diversity & Art
Commemorating National Day of Truth & Reconciliation with seven diverse Indigenous Artists, each presenting four art pieces.
Numbers Unveiled: A Journey into their Sacred Significance
With Colouring It Forward
In Indigenous ways of knowing, certain numbers hold sacred significance. The numbers four and seven are the essence behind this exhibition’s 28 panels.
The number four symbolizes balance in manifold ways – the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, and the four facets of self: mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. The four colors and sections of the medicine wheel embody knowledge that guides Indigenous Peoples in cultural teachings.
The number seven embodies the seven generations that came before us – our ancestors, along with the seven sacred grandfather teachings. It also signifies the seven generations yet to come. As Indigenous people, we embrace these teachings to lead our lives in a good way.
As Indigenous people, we embrace these teachings to lead our lives in a good way. When we face challenges, they serve as a source of healing, granting us equilibrium in life.
Meet the Artists
Amber is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta and is currently completing her MFA in creative writing at UBC. Her stories, “Life’s Nectar” and “Forevermore,” can be found in the Amazon number one best-selling anthology, “Above and Beneath.” Her other published short stories include “Howling at the Moon,” “The Arcane Protector,” “Time Ryder,” and “The Gift.” In 2019 and 2022, she secured second place in the Kemosa contest. Additionally, in 2021, her writing was short-listed for the Constance Rooke CNF Prize, earning her a spot to participate in the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle.
Amber’s artwork has been featured in the Indigenous Motherhood and Matriarchy art show, the “From the Land: Indigenous Ecological Art for a New Era” show, the Mino-Pimatisiwin photography exhibition, the Truth and Reconciliation exhibition, and the Honouring Our Children Exhibition in Calgary.
Autumn Whiteway, also known as “Night Singing Woman,” is a Saulteaux (Ojibway)/Métis archaeologist, artist, curator, and educator based in Mohkinstsis (Calgary, Alberta). She is a member of Berens River First Nation in Manitoba but grew up in Treaty 7 territory. Autumn explores Indigenous themes from a contemporary perspective through painting, digital art, installation, and photography. Her painting and digital art primarily focus on the heavily symbolic Woodland Style of art, while her photographic practice and installations serve as a form of activism to highlight Indigenous issues. Her curatorial work centers on amplifying the voices of Indigenous creatives through a series of Indigenous-focused exhibitions. Additionally, she curates for Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society. She holds a permit as an archaeologist in Alberta and earned an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba (2017), a B.Sc. in Archaeology, and a B.A. in Greek and Roman Studies (2011).
Gordon Wesley is passionate about capturing the essence of the wild in still pictures, preserving his wildlife experiences as everlasting memories. He proudly hails from the Nakoda Stoney community in the Bighorn Reserve, where his inspiration to breathe life onto canvases was ignited. Residing in the tranquility of the mountainous reserve, Gordon can effortlessly maintain focus and immerse himself in translating the Rockies’ wildlife onto canvas.
Since childhood, Gordon has held a deep affection for the great outdoors, observing the creatures inhabiting his local terrain. His innate curiosity and appreciation for their natural beauty drove his passion for nature, motivating him to encapsulate the spirit of the wild through art.
Gordon has actively participated in numerous exhibits, shows, and art sales, including the Tamarack Art Show & Sale, the World Indigenous People Conference on Education, Dale Auger & Friends’ First Nation Art & Sale Events, Preserving Our Treaties, Consent & Silent Auction, Canada Day Celebration, Art Walk, Calgary Exhibit Stampede, Western Art Gallery, The Heritage Gala Celebration Aboriginal Heritage, Ducks Unlimited Canada Fundraising Event, Western Indian Art Show, “Essence of the Wild” by Sun & Moon Visionaries, Aboriginal Day in Jasper, AB, Moon Stone Gallery, Pickin Party (Cochrane), and many more.
Gordon’s talent has also been showcased in Colouring It Forward’s 2018, 2019, and 2021 Indigenous Art Calendars. He collaborated on a significant interior mural commissioned for the lobby of the City of Calgary Library. A recent achievement he takes pride in is having his artwork featured by Alberta Parks on the Kananaskis Conservation Pass.
Kalum Teke Dan
Kalum Teke Dan, with ancestral roots in the Blood Tribe of southern Alberta, draws inspiration from his deep connection to traditional, spiritual, and cultural heritage. Raised in Calgary by his supportive mother, Joanne Dan, Kalum is primarily self-taught, honing his skills through keen observation, relentless practice, and unwavering dedication. Working in oil, acrylic, and watercolour, he crafts pieces that offer a distinctive perspective on spirituality and the experience of being Indigenous in contemporary society. His designs manifest his unique interpretations of subjects, be they individuals, groups, animals, or amalgamations.
Over two decades as a professional artist, Kalum’s work has found its place in galleries across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Noteworthy appearances include showcases at the Vancouver Community College during the 2010 Winter Olympics and the Western Oasis Showcase at the Calgary Stampede since 2016. His pieces grace the personal collections of numerous Canadian Premiers, international leaders, and prominent Canadian corporations and educational institutions.
Kalum finds fulfillment in sharing his art at Indigenous conferences, pow wows, and events, while also participating in various residencies. An enthusiastic participant in Pow-Wows and traditional ceremonies, he portrays real individuals who embody the collective strength and pride of his people, mirroring the spirit he captures in his animal portraits.
Beyond canvas, Kalum’s artwork has been featured in documentaries, coloring books, art publications, calendars, greeting cards, and an array of merchandise. He has also created logos for numerous organizations, including the emblem for the Pokaiks Children Commemorative Orange Shirt Day Walk, a recurring event in Calgary since 2019.
Kalum’s impact extends to large-scale commissioned murals gracing notable spaces such as the Calgary City Hall, Calgary Downtown Library, Calgary City Police, and various educational institutions. His contributions to K-Days, IAM Market, and other events in Treaty 6 territory span over 15 years, culminating in a 2022 commission for K-Days’ Indigenous experience stage backdrop and logo. The breadth of his work stands as a testament to his enduring dedication and profound artistic vision.
Mackenzie Brown is a First Nations Cree woman from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, currently residing in Otoskwanihk, Calgary. She is a performer, drummer, storyteller, tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist, and advocate. Mackenzie, along with her mom, forms the dynamic duo “Warrior Women.” Together, they drum and provide instruction not only in Alberta but also on a global scale, including appearances at events like the annual Jasper Dark Skies Festival, the International Media Marketplace in New York City, and MASA in Abidjan, Africa.
In addition to her drumming talents, Mackenzie is an accomplished acrylic and mural artist, as well as a skilled traditional First Nations crafts artisan. Her art has found a place in numerous galleries across Alberta. Notably, her murals have graced the City of Calgary BUMP festival, leaving an indelible mark in places like Jasper, Edmonton, and being cherished by travelers worldwide in Jasper National Park.
Mackenzie’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. She received the 2019 Esquao Award for Children’s Future, the 2019 Indigenous Woman of the Year accolade from the Alberta Assembly of First Nations, and was recognized in the Top 30 under 30 by Alberta Corporation for Global Cooperation in 2020. Further, she was honored with MacEwan University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022. Notably, Mackenzie also made her mark as the sole Indigenous Albertan artist on the reality TV show “Landscape Artist of the Year Canada,” where she emerged as one of the top 3 finalists.
Nathan Patrick Meguinis, also known as Buffalo Boy, Traveling Rock, and Kind Hearted Man, is a proud member of the Tsuutina and Dene Nation, representing one of the Treaty #7 Nations. He is not only an accomplished artist, muralist, and illustrator but also a skilled Powwow Dancer. Nathan is happily married and is the proud father of four beautiful children. In his native Tsuutina language, “Danitdada” is a warm greeting that means “How are you doing” or “hello.”
His artwork is a powerful visual representation of his Tsuu T’ina (Dèné Nation) heritage, deeply intertwined with Treaty #7. Nathan’s unique artistic style blends elements of abstraction and realism, weaving together narratives of historical events, cultural philosophy, and personal stories.
Nathan has made significant contributions to his community, dedicating three years to the Tsuutina Gunaha language department. Here, he played a pivotal role in creating artwork that aids in the teaching of the Tsuut’ina language and culture, including the development of Tsuutina language animations.
Notably, Nathan has left an indelible mark on the city of Calgary through his mural projects. His creations, such as “Buffalo Nations Stand and Be Noticed,” “Travelling Family,” and “We Are All Treaty People” at the Cspace Building King Edward, stand as vibrant testaments to his artistic prowess and cultural significance.
Furthermore, Nathan has lent his artistic talents to projects like the Calgary Zoo mural and the Drumheller mural. In all his works, he pays homage to his cultural heritage, employing traditional symbolism and ceremonial colors. Each color carries profound meaning, from white symbolizing “God” or a holy being, to black representing strength and significance.
Nathan extends his heartfelt gratitude to his family, parents, friends, Tsuutina leadership, and fellow Nation Members for their unwavering support, education, and influence. He expresses his thanks with the Tsuutina phrase, “Siyisgaasdzi-tii,” signifying deep appreciation for their contributions to his journey. Connect with him on Instagram @nathan_p_meguinis.
Tyrone Whitehawk, a proud Saulteaux artist, shares, “I paint with the love and passion in my heart, expressing every experience I’ve been fortunate enough to survive through with every stroke of the brush. Without the love, encouragement, and genuine happiness she provides, my artwork wouldn’t capture the beauty I see in the people and land around me… if it would exist at all. My family is my motivation. I am my own harshest critic, setting very high expectations for myself. It can be burdensome, but when I see the appreciation in my children’s eyes, I know I’m on the right path. Along my journey, I’ve been lucky to meet some very supportive friends who continue to encourage me in further developing my gift.
“My First Nation heritage is a source of great pride and inspiration for me, often expressed through my artwork, primarily done in acrylic on canvas. However, I believe to succeed, I have to be dynamic and take risks. I use bold, sometimes fluorescent colors to convey the vibrancy of life. I stay true to myself in my representations, letting the natural landscape and the cultures around me shape my artwork, reflecting the world I’m fortunate to be part of. Due to the originality of my designs and use of colors, I believe my art style is distinctively my own.
“Being mostly self-taught, Tyrone has participated in numerous exhibitions and was the recipient of the Peace Hills Trust prize in 2018. His artwork has also been featured in Colouring It Forward’s annual calendars, on greeting cards, mugs, and various other products.”
Commemorate September 30th by honouring the survivors and the children lost in residential schools and learn how we can all work towards reconciliation by taking ACTION and being a good ALLY.
How to be a Good ALLY
Accept ● Learn ● Listen ● You
CIF Reconciliation Society collaborates with Indigenous Artists and elders to produce authentic books, cards and journals to tell the other side of the story of Indigenous people — of hope and of a different future. Colouring It Forward is more than a colouring book, it’s a gathering place for people to share their own stories and their Native Canadian art, and to build a community. Colouring It Forward is a 100% Indigenous social enterprise and make donations from our sales to Indigenous social projects.