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A STEPS PROJECT

 

From Weeds We Grow: Restoration of Relationship

From Weeds We Grow: Restoration of Relationship is a project a part of the From Weeds We Grow 2021 program, that features a Water Teaching by Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill and an in-person beading circle on the banks of the Humber River led by Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe (Medicine Water Woman).


 

PROJECT AT A GLANCE

Location: Rowntree Mills Park, Rexdale, Toronto

Artists/Facilitators: Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe

Year: 2021

Services: Artist Capacity BuildingCreative Placemaking

 

A STEPS PROJECT

 

From Weeds We Grow: Restoration of Relationship

From Weeds We Grow: Restoration of Relationship is a project a part of the From Weeds We Grow 2021 program, that features a Water Teaching by Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill and an in-person beading circle on the banks of the Humber River led by Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe (Medicine Water Woman).


 

PROJECT AT A GLANCE

Location: Rowntree Mills Park, Rexdale, Toronto

Artists/Facilitators: Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe

Year: 2021

Services: Artist Capacity BuildingCreative Placemaking

 

19

workshop participants

10

one-of-a-kind handcrafted beadworks

1

collective community tapestry

1

water teachings session

PROJECT DETAILS

Beginning in 2020, From Weeds We Grow is an interdisciplinary public art project that explores the Rexdale community’s relationship to the environment through virtual walking tours, workshops, storytelling and performances rooted in Rowntree Mills Park. This year, lead artist Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe continues the exploration of nature and our connections to water through four project components: A Water Teaching Session led by Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill, a participatory beading circle led by Lindsey Lickers, and two exhibits to showcase the resulting beadwork by workshop participants: a virtual gallery on the STEPS website, and an in-person exhibit of the collective community tapestry at Albion Public Library. In collaboration with Ontario Culture Days, this project was part of this year’s Ontario Culture Days Festival.

Rooted in an expanded understanding of the importance of water in cleansing, creating clear intentions and commitments to the land, Contributing to the Bundle – Restoration of Relationship explores Indigenous teachings and craft as a means to deepen our connections with our waterways. 

WATER teachings

Community members came together in a virtual space for an evening of teachings about the significance of water, led by artist Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe and Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill. Participants were immersed in teachings on how to care for water to help shape our connections and commitments to the land.

“The water is that sacred gift, it is your birthplace, it is home. It is the birthing of all and so, when I take this water or when I travel I always speak to the water first… I say hello. I always speak to my river when I go by and I let the river know that I admire that journey that it’s taking. And so I know the water thanks me, because I get a lot of good blessings – I get a nice fragrance of the rain, of the flower, of the earth – it’s like gratitude.”

– Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill

Beading Workshop with Lindsey Lickers

 

In October of 2021, community members gathered with artist Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe for a beading workshop that took place along the Humber River in Rowntree Mills Park. Together, they reflected on their individual relationships with the environment and explored the importance of our local waterways. These reflections, combined with the Water Teachings shared by elder Renee Thomas-Hill, inspired the creation of personalized beaded artworks.

Photo Credit: Samantha Beltran

Along with the material kits provided to each participant, Lindsey prepared a beading demo to share the basics of beading.

“Beading is so much more than a decorative craft. For many Indigenous nations, beadwork has acted as an extension of language, helping us to interpret our surroundings, visually encapsulating treaties, continually guiding us to remember our original instructions. It is a grounding medicine that encourages presence, reflection and connection. It asks us to be mindful of our relationships. To others, to the land and maybe most importantly, to ourselves. For without balance within, we cannot create – restore – renew relationship(s) around us.”

– Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe, Artist Facilitator

Explore the virtual exhibit below by hovering over the gallery images and clicking the arrows to view each participant’s work!

Emily Chan

I come from a family who saves vegetable seeds to grow our own. I grew up learning to reuse the water that we rinse vegetables with to wash dishes, or water the garden. This piece expresses my Chinese Canadian family’s love and respect for the relationship between water and all living things, including the leafy greens we grow.”

Wisebird by Pragya

 

“A wise old owl lived in an oak;

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard:

Why can’t we all be like that bird?”

“The owl in this nursery rhyme is believed to be a symbol of wisdom. For me, Owl is wisdom, intuition, independent thinking, and observant listening.”

Fins & Waves by Sarah Crossley

I thought about the connection between the earth and aquatic life and how important the connection of those things are to humans.”

Fish in the Water by Bina Israni

Maria-Elena Martoglio

“This was the first time I tried bead work and I enjoyed the process very much. The serene setting of the park plus the patience and knowledge of our wonderful teacher, Lindsey Lickers, was of most value. 

My piece is a reflection on the theme, water. Challenging as it was to create curves for a first project, I was intrigued to explore the fluidity of this element.”

Riversong by Richa Baghel

My bead work reflects the relationship between me and the river, people and the river. The river close to me is humber, and I feel it is a blessing to have a river right in the middle of the city. By the river side there are flowers, butterflies, trees and many paths to explore. In Indian tradition the river is considered mother as she gives us life. Women are the water keepers in Canadian Native tradition. We are 70 percent water, therefore it’s important to keep our water sources protected and clean. River calls us to walk by – listen to her song and embrace the wilderness.”

The Little Cat by Arus

Boonakajian - Anchor in Ojibwe by Lena

“This piece is a representation of courage amidst the sudden changes into one’s current state in life. The water appears disruptive and turbulent from its once calm state prior to the plunging of the anchor. The water in this state represents movement, flow, and multi-direction. The anchor represents a form of “groundedness”.Its weight represents a “deep knowing” that you will be unaffected by the turbulence of the current moment that surrounds you, if you have the courage to stand unwavering in your own personal truth and connected to your inner well being. 

There is great courage in taking a plunge forward into stillness or the unknown. There is also great courage to be able to stay true to yourself during times of turbulence. It takes courage to have hope that life- like water, will always ebb and flow in your favor…if only you have the courage…”

“It felt like magic was in the air, and if not that, then the good spirits were amongst us… Lindsay’s instruction was informative and her presence wise. I really appreciated the ceremonial aspect and I think this allowed for all of us (a very unique and diverse group of individuals) to gather harmoniously for an exquisite craft activity.”

– Workshop Participant

Albion Exhibit

Following the beading circle, workshop participants submitted their completed beaded artworks for inclusion in an in-person exhibit at Albion Library. The pieces were stitched together and displayed as a collective community tapestry, reflecting the shared teachings and commitment to deepening relationships with the environment and local waterways.

Photo of collective tapestry of beaded artworks at Albion Library.
Collage of beaded artwork that has imagery of trees, fish, the globe, owl, human figures, anchor, bird and water in colours of yellow, blue, green and purple.
ABOUT Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill
headshot of Elder Renee Thomas-Hill

Kanate’hson, Elder Renee Thomas-Hill was born into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Grand River Territory. She honours her lineage, Mother – Cayuga Bear and that of her Father – Mohawk Turtle. As a Haudenosaunee woman, her role in life is a Carrier of our Heritage. 

ABOUT Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe
Lindsey Lickers with long brown hair and wearing a black shirt and yellow accessories. Lindsey is smiling at the camera.
Lindsey Lickers with long brown hair and wearing a black shirt and yellow accessories. Lindsey is smiling at the camera.

Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe (Medicine Water Woman) is Turtle Clan originally from Six Nations of the Grand River, with matriarchal ties to the Mississauga’s of Credit First Nation. She has been a practicing artist specializing in painting, beading and community arts facilitation going on seventeen years. In 2019, Lindsey received an International Women’s Day Award (City of Toronto) recognizing her unique synthesis of public art, Indigenous women’s issues and governance.

Learn More About From Weeds We Grow

Acknowledgements and Project Partners

From Weeds We Grow is part of the Arts in the Parks program. It has been made possible through generous support from Arts in the Parks, Toronto Arts Foundation, Toronto Arts Council funded by the City of Toronto, Canada Council for the Arts, and funding provided by the Ontario Government.

Logo banner with logos for Arts in the Park, Toronto Arts Foundation, Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of ontario.

We extend our thanks to Ontario Culture Days for their partnership as part of their 2021 programming.

Logo banner with logos for Toronto Public Library and ON culture days.
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