20th National Mural Symposium Program

November 15 – 18, 2021 – Online

Monday, Nov 15th 12:30 – 1:00pmOfficial remarks + Land Acknowledgement
Monday, Nov 15th 1:00 – 2:30pmKeynote Speaker – Phil Cote
Co-presented with YYZ Artists’ Outlet
Tuesday, Nov 16th 1:00 – 2:30pmProject presentation – Toronto Water Hoarding Project
Co-presented with StreetARToronto
Tuesday, Nov 16th 5:00 – 7:00pmWorkshop – Building strength, capacity and community
for emerging women+ and non-binary artists
Wednesday, Nov 17th 1:00 – 2:30pmPanel discussion – Black representations in mural art – after 2020
Co-presented with NIA Centre for the Arts
Wednesday, Nov 17th 5:00 – 6:30pmPanel discussion – Let’s Talk Art: Culturally Diverse Aesthetics in mural art
Co-presented with Neighbourhood Arts Network
Supported by RBC
Thursday, Nov 18th 1:00 – 2:30pmPanel discussion – Disability Justice & Mural Arts: Building Pathways to Access
Thursday, Nov 18th 5:00 – 6:00pmProject presentation – BLANKETING THE CITY IV: CATHEDRAL SQUARE.
A Mural Series Celebrating Coast Salish Weaving

Co-presented with the Vancouver Mural Festival
Thursday, Nov 18th 6:00-6:15pmClosing remarks

Please note – all times listed are Eastern Standard time

Speaker Bios & Session Descriptions

Land Acknowledgement

Dr. Duke Redbird, elder, poet, activist, educator, and artist.
With a legacy stretching back to the 1960s, he is a pillar of First Nations literature in Canada, and has practiced a number of art disciplines including poetry, painting, theatre, and film. He was a trailblazer throughout the 60’s & 70’s giving voice to Indigenous people at major institutions and folk festivals across the country. From 1994-2009, he was an arts & entertainment reporter for CITY TV in Toronto.
He holds a Master’s degree from York University and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University in 2013. Duke Redbird is also featured on Native North America which received a Grammy Award nomination for best historical album in December 2015.
Duke is currently recording with The Sultans of String, and occupies the position as Elder with the following organizations: Myseum Toronto, the Toronto Biennial, Summer Works, Banff Leaders Lab, and is Artist in Residence with the Urban Indigenous Education Centre at the Toronto District School Board.

Paths to Creation; From the Revival of our Oral Stories to Street Art for the Eighth Fire Generation

Session type: Keynote address

Renowned Indigenous artist Phil Cote will speak about his mural practice and the themes incorporated throughout his mural art. Cote will discuss the importance of sharing Indigenous teachings with a wider audience as well as utilizing mural art as a way to reclaim spaces, land, time, and history – through a selection of mural projects, some of which are collaborations with non-Indigenous artists.

Phil Cote
Anishinaabe-izhini-kaaz-o-win Nodj-mowin-Miskogayaashk Gichi-manidoo-anishinaabe indoodem Mishu-pishu niin Anishinaabe, Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin Min-a-waa Mohawk. Philip Cote, MFA, Moose Deer Point First Nation, is a Young Spiritual Elder, Indigenous artist, activist, educator, historian, and Ancestral Knowledge Keeper. He is engaged in creating opportunities for artmaking and teaching methodologies through Indigenous symbolism, traditional ceremonies, history, oral stories, and land-based pedagogy. Citing all of his ancestry, he is Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin, and Mohawk. Philip is the seventh generation great-grandson of Shawnee Warrior and Leader Tecumseh, and his ancestor Amelia Chechok is the granddaughter of Chechok who was the first signer of the Toronto Purchase of 1805.

Keynote Speaker Co-presented with YYZ Artists’ Outlet

Toronto Water Hoarding Project

Session type: Project presentation

Through late Summer and early Fall of 2020, co-curators Adrian Hayles, Johl Whiteduck Ringuette and Angel Carrillo (Cruz1) came together on Street Art Toronto’s biggest mural jam to date—inviting 90+ muralists and artists from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience over a three-week period, amidst a global pandemic, to bring beauty and life to Toronto Water’s newly erected hoarding wall in Toronto’s East-end.

In celebration of this large-scale project, filmmaker Dustin Traballo, muralist Flips and community organizer Alathea Milne-Hines worked together to create this short documentary highlighting the diversity of artists, the success of StART’s biggest mural jam to date and the great impact that these types of projects can have on their surrounding communities.

This session will include the first public viewing of the film, a short tour of a selection of artworks, and a panel discussion with some of the great team members.

Artist pictured: Danielle Hyde

Speakers include: Catherine Campbell from StART, Alathea Milne-Hines, Community Arts Organizer, Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, Curator, Adrian Hayles, Curator, Angel Carrillo (Cruz1), Curator, Dustin Traballo, Filmmaker, Flips, Artist and Film Coordinator, and Leyland Adams, Assistant Coordinator.

Session co-presented with StreetARToronto

*Please note – the following session has limited capacity and requires pre-registration in order to attend.
(Registration for this workshop is now closed)

Building strength, capacity and community for emerging women+ and non-binary artists

Session type: Workshop

An opportunity for up to 8 women+ and non-binary folks to share their artistic journey and receive feedback on an active design, professional presentation or project they’re dreaming up. This session is an intimate discussion aimed at providing guidance and fostering mentorship amongst emerging visual artists. It is an opportunity for historically excluded voices to gain feedback and knowledge, specifically around their projects, body of work, and artist trajectory.

Bareket Kezwer
Bareket is a Toronto based muralist, community engaged artist and facilitator, curator, cultural producer, graphic designer, frequent collaborator and eternal optimist.

Her multidisciplinary practice is motivated by a desire to spread joy, cultivate gratitude, celebrate the power of kindness and compassion, and support the growth of inclusive and connected communities. She programs and facilitates projects that enable people to express themselves through creative engagement and increase representation of Toronto’s diverse population. In her murals, she works with bright colours and bold patterns to captivate people’s attention and fill them with delight.

In 2017, she founded Women Paint, a street art jam celebrating the strength, resilience and diverse stories of women and non-binary artist and community members. As the initiative’s creative director, she has produced 80 murals by emerging and early career artists, and facilitated intergenerational community murals and mural camps with youth.

Shafia Shaikh
Shafia (she/her) is a community artist whose work encompasses equity-based public art projects, installations, youth workshops and street art. She does this work under the name The E.W.o.C. Project (Equity for Women of Colour), an initiative committed to expanding representation and creating opportunities for women of colour in the arts. The project places a focus on activism for under-represented communities, often involving community engagement and sharing authentic stories through accessible art.

Black representations in mural art – after 2020

Session type: Panel discussion

Moderator: Alica Hall, Executive Director, Nia Centre for the Arts

In 2020, against the backdrop of a global conversation about racial injustice, we saw a surge of mural projects that brought Black voices and representations into the public realm. This increased interest in Black stories and aesthetics created never before seen opportunities for Black artists, but what is the impact? Join Alica Hall, executive director of Nia Centre for the Arts and muralists Curtia Wright, Jimmy Baptiste, and Bria Fernandes, as they reflect on this moment, and its impact on their practices and the communities they are a part of.

Curtia Wright
Curtia is a multidisciplinary fine artist, mural artist and arts educator based in Toronto, Ontario. She received her BFA at OCAD University in the Drawing and Painting program in 2015. Her artwork re-imagines our reality using elements of fantasy and surrealism. Using bold and vibrant colour, she aims to transport audiences to her alternate worlds. Colour functions as a powerful element to create a sense of bliss within the viewer. Wright’s murals commonly depict abstract figures surrounded by floral patterned elements. Her narratives focus on telling stories of black peoples of the African diaspora, primarily speaking about her own heritage and history as a Jamaican-Canadian. She’s collaborated on mural projects with community organizations and private mural commissions across Toronto and the GTA.

Jimmy Baptiste
I am father, youth educator/facilitator, graphic artist, curator and muralist, raised in Montreal, Quebec. My work is inspired by the imaginative world of graffiti and typography, manga culture and comic books. These elements have helped me create my unique aesthetic and high quality artwork. The objectives of my work is to create strong imageries and vibrant visual compositions with a touch of sensibility. I offer high quality art-based workshops and activities that deliver curated creative projects based on 10 years of experience for the city of Montreal and more then 18 years in professional practice. My aim is to develop and provide with my partners a unique approach to art and creativity. I promote the use of murals and graffiti to engage people of all ages in positive skill-building experiences, while simultaneously supporting local arts and culture for residents and community partners.

Bria Fernandes
Bria is an emerging artist that specializes in figurative painting. She uses silence and omissions in her work to open a space for discourse. Silence, omissions, and exclusion are tools that can characterize oppression or vulnerability and be depicted in her imagery. The figures are often painted in a pause of self-reflection and introspection, invoking thought. They are somber with no expression. Looking like they are waiting in a non-place enforced to sit or stand, which sometimes seems staged. She paints what she believes is the voice of silence, what it feels like to be silenced or invisible as a Black person. Bria Fernandes was born in Ottawa, Ontario. She grew up and is living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently an undergraduate student at the Alberta University of the Arts to obtain her BFA. She was also enrolled at the University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Art in Winnipeg

Moderator – Alica Hall
Alica has been working at the intersection of art, communications and community development for the past 10 years. Her curatorial practice is driven by a desire to explore identity and power, excavate lesser known stories and a commitment to expand visual narratives surrounding the Black experience. Alica also works to build capacity and resilience in the communities she is a part of. In 2018, she took on the role of Executive Director at Nia Centre for the Arts, a Toronto-based charitable organization that supports and showcases arts from across the Afro-Diaspora. In her time at the Centre, she has launched their first residency program, curated the first Black Art Fair and strengthened partnerships with schools and businesses to create greater visibility for artists. Alica is now heading up the renovation of Nia Centre’s 14,000 sq. ft. facility to create Canada’s first professional space dedicated to Afro-diasporic art. This $7.5 million capital project will create a multi-purpose performance space, artist studios, a digital media lab, a recording studio, event space, and gallery space.

Session co-presented with Nia Centre for the Arts

Nia Centre is building Canada’s first professional arts centre dedicated to Afro-diasporic art.

Let’s Talk Art: Culturally Diverse Aesthetics in mural art

Session type: Panel discussion

Moderator: Claudia Arana, independent curator

In this session, multidisciplinary artists Poonam Sharma, Aitak Sorahitalab, and Kseniya Tsoy will present about their artistic (and mural) practice, influenced by the cultural aesthetics of their home countries. The artists will discuss their experiences as immigrant women producing mural art, the barriers faced, as well as the change needed in order to build more spaces for diverse aesthetics in public art.

Poonam Sharma
Poonam is a contemporary visual artist & muralist. She grew up in India, where she learnt various folk & tribal art forms and explored contemporary styles in Canada through various community art projects. In her murals, she blends various art forms to create a unique expression and enhance the significance of art forms passed through several generations.

Kseniya Tsoy
Kseniya is a new Canadian community-engaged artist originally from Uzbekistan. Whether it’s community murals, illustration, or cultural production, her work has a distinct social purpose and focuses on diversity and inclusion. As a visual artist, her works are inspired by folk motifs and legends of different cultures that influenced her throughout her life. For her as a person of mixed heritage, it is a visual expression of her never-ending exploration of identity and belonging.

Aitak Sorahitalab
Aitak is a contemporary ceramic artist and art educator with more than a decade of experience in both fields. As a creative, she narrates life stories, social issues and political concerns in her ceramic sculptures and installations using the elements of Iranian and Mesopotamian art, culture and history. Aitak worked with diverse art organizations as an art instructor, programmer, jury and committee member in Tehran (Iran) and Toronto. Some of her classes include art initiatives for newcomers and refugees, special needs children and adults. Passionate about social development, Aitak has co-founded a non-profit organization, Airsa, to help and support new Canadians in the arts in Toronto.

Moderator – Claudia Arana is an independent curator, arts administrator, and cultural connector who has installed in her practice the construction of virtual and physical artistic platforms to promote the inclusion of different cultural perspectives. She aims to include socially and politically viable artistic practices through the engagement of physical and digital spaces exploring notions of memory, racialization and global migration. She studied Art Theory and Critical Thinking at the School of Visual Arts as well as Advanced Critique at the International Centre of Photography in New YorkCity. Currently, she is the ArtworxTO Cultural Hub Curator for the 2021-22 Toronto’s Year of Public Art and the Operations Manager at Sur Gallery.

Session co-presented with Neightbourhood Arts Network

Supported by:

To learn more about RBC Newcomer Spotlight Program visit NeighbourhoodArtsNetwork.org

Disability Justice & Mural Arts: Building Pathways to Access

Session type: Panel discussion

Moderator: Wy Joung Kou, multidisciplinary artist

This panel brings together professional artists, arts researchers & arts administrators from within Mad, Crip and Disabled communities to discuss how legacies of ableism and colonialism have shaped present day realities regarding access, inclusion & opportunity for artists with disabilities. Drawing on personal and professional expertise, panelists will offer insight on the lack of disabled artists represented in mural arts fields, and possible solutions for a way forward rooted in disability justice.

Carla Rice
Carla Rice (she/her, they/them) is a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Feminist Studies and Social Practice at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on disability and non-normative embodiments, feminist and intersectionality studies, and arts-based methodologies. Rice founded Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, a community-facing research creation centre, which explores how communities can mobilize the arts to deepen public dialogue and advance social justice.

Bushra Junaid
Bushra is Outreach and Development Manager at the Ontario Arts Council and manages the Skills and Career Development: Indigenous Arts Professionals and Arts Professionals of Colour and Deaf and Disability Arts programs. Bushra has spent the past fifteen years supporting the development and artistic practices of artists from a diverse range of communities and cultures. Bushra has also worked in social housing, low income and homeless initiatives and newcomer and refugee settlement. Of Jamaican and Nigerian background, Bushra was born in Montreal and grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her art and curatorial work explore history, memory, and identity through mixed-media collage, drawing and painting. Bushra’s work has recently been shown in They Forgot That We Were Seeds (2020, Carleton University Art Gallery), Like Sugar (2019, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery), Future Possible: Art of Newfoundland and Labrador to 1949 (2018, The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery) and Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art (2018-19, Royal Ontario Museum, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia). Bushra curated What Carries Us: Newfoundland and Labrador in the Black Atlantic (2020, The Rooms) and co-curated the multidisciplinary project, New-Found-Lands: Exploring Historical and Contemporary Connections between Newfoundland and the Caribbean Diaspora (2016, Eastern Edge Gallery). Bushra received a Bachelor of Environment Design and Maser of Architecture from the Technical University of Nova Scotia.

Photo credit – Karyn Avalon

Moderator – Wy Joung Kou
Wy Young Kou is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist. Their body of work spans mosaic, poetry, sound, movement, performance, video, and installation. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and interdependence, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, care, and intimacy. Wy-J is the Associate Artistic Director at ReDefine Arts (established as Red Dress Productions in 2005), a performing member of Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers, the inaugural winner of a JRG Grant for Artists with Disabilities (2018), and an ILGBT Artist Residency alum. www.wyjoungkou.com

Image Description: An Indigenous woman with light skin, shoulder length dark hair and brown eyes, wearing a black shirt and glasses is holding a paintbrush and paint palette. She is looking at a canvas and is painting on the canvas intently. She is surrounded by paints and brushes. Along the bottom is written @CoCreation_Art in pink font.

Danielle Hyde
Danielle is a multi-disciplinary Indigenous artist and persons with a disability (OCD). They create under CoCreations.com and are a member of the Red Urban Nation Artists Collective (RUN) that creates Indigenous murals and supports emerging Indigenous artists and place-making. Their work blends traditional and non-traditional mediums, painting, photography and public art with performance. Centering this work is an artistic practice and process that sees all Art as an act of co-creation; acknowledging the agency of Art and re-membering of Art’s fundamental generosity. Danielle collaborates with all beings; seen and unseen, human and non-human, in a creative chorus to tell stories. Working to humanize mental wellness and unseat the constructed dominant position of settler colonial logic that sees land and people as property this process challenges colonial ideas of mastery, intent and ownership. Reimaging roles from producers and consumers to creators and engagers. Through deep conversations on ethical relationality with the world around us, generosity anchors our shared spaces while creating windows of understanding to build community with Art. Danielle is Chair of the Indigenous Advisory panel with the Reach Out Response Network, helping to develop the City of Toronto’s Nonpolice Community-led Emergency Response pilot program starting in 2022 and is also a member of the Board for Tangled Art and Disability Gallery.

BLANKETING THE CITY IV: CATHEDRAL SQUARE. A Mural Series Celebrating Coast Salish Weaving

Session type: Project Presentation

Blanketing The City (2018-2021) is a public art mural series and Reconciliation process designed by acclaimed xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Weaver and Graphic Designer, Debra Sparrow in collaboration with Vancouver Mural Festival. The series boldly affirms the resurgence and importance of Coast Salish weaving on these lands, and directly combats the ongoing systemic suppression of Indigenous visual culture. Debra Sparrow has invited master weavers Chief Janice George (Sḵwxwú7mesh) and Angela George (səlilwətaɬ) to collaborate on the design of 7 landmark murals blanketing Cathedral Square Park. Blanketing The City IV: Cathedral Square boldly transmits and magnifies the visibility of xwməθkwəyə̓m, Sḵwxwú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ culture on their ancestral lands. This project is a deep exploration and implementation of Indigenous visibility in public spaces via a multi-year collaboration between these weavers. Blanketing The City IV: Cathedral Square, will be the first semi permanent public art collaboration between weavers from the three local nations.

Debra Sparrow
“Everything I do is a reflection of my people. The ancestors speak to me through this creative gift. I, in turn, share it with you and others who take the time to stop and ask the questions – Reflections, traditional designs, contemporary colors…” – Debra Sparrow

Debra is a self-taught Musqueam designer who was born and raised on the Musqueam Indian Reserve. Debra is an acclaimed weaver who has been weaving for twenty years and is deeply involved with the revival of Musqueam weaving. She integrates her peoples’ history into her art and design work which can be seen in various museums and institutions, such as the Vancouver Airport. It is Debra’s hope to educate others about the beauty and integrity of her people’s history through her art.

Debra’s weavings are currently featured at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) in the exhibit: Fabric of Our Land. She is heavily involved in the coordination of the delivery of programing and live-weaving workshops at MOA. She also continues to work on pieces close to her heart at her home in Musqueam. It is Debra’s hope to educate others about the beauty and integrity of her people’s history through her art.

Debra Sparrow has been involved in the revival of Musqueam weaving for the past 20 years. Her art and design work has been featured in various museums and institutions around British Columbia. She currently has weavings that are featured on display Museum of Anthropology as a part of the exhibit ‘Fabric of our Land.’ Debra’s weaving works, which she often creates with her sister, are also on display at the Vancouver International Airport in the Musqueam Welcome Area of the International arrivals. In 2009, Debra Sparrow was commissioned to create a piece for the First Nations Gallery at the Government House in Victoria, BC. For this comission Debra created a ceremonial blanket and shawl. Debra was actively involved in the creation and design of a logo for the Canadian Hockey Teams for the 2010 Olympics. In addition to this, Debra and her sister created two weavings, ‘Thunderbirds: Keepers of the Sky’ for the Olympic Games, which are permanently located in the UBC Thunderbird Arena. Debra als received the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art in 2008.

Adrian Sinclair, Director of Engagement
Adrian Sinclair was born on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional home of the Anishinaabe, (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene, and Dakota, and is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation (Winnipeg Manitoba). He is Northern Scottish on his father’s side and Ukrainian Mennonite on his mothers side. He is co-founder and Director of Engagement at the Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) where he develops community-engaged public art and culture projects that aim to build a more equitable, just and inclusive city. Adrian is driven to support the production of public art and programming that weave together artistic expression, empowerment, criticality and celebration. At VMF, he has supported and co-created programming and public art with artists, community leaders and organizations like Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, The Chinatown Foundation, Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies, Overdose Precention Society, Culture Saves Lives, BC Hydro, BC Housing, ECUAD, MOV, MOA, and The Indian Summer Festival. He is on the board of directors of The BC Mobile Sauna Society and Vancouver Art House Society. Adrian completed his MA in Philosophy, specializing in Queer Theory and Phenomenology at The University of Western Ontario.

Co-presented with the Vancouver Mural Festival

If you would like to inquire about late registration, please email info@muralroutes.ca

The 20th National Mural Symposium is sponsored by:


Community partners: