Woliwon, Samaqani Cocahq
An important chapter is closing for artsnb as Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier), Aboriginal Outreach Officer since 2013, will be moving on to explore new artistic endeavours.
Samaqani’s contributions to the development of Indigenous arts networks in New Brunswick have helped catalyze a shift towards a more inclusive, cross-cultural approach. The artsnb Circle of Elders advised that an Outreach role was needed. Natalie took the role on with verve, visiting 14 of 15 First Nations communities in her first year to deliver grant writing and orientation workshops. She has become an ambassador and activist promoting and supporting New Brunswick’s Indigenous arts community. Through artsnb, she has developed local, regional, and national ties, and has helped build new ties for others at the same time. Her reach extends beyond artsnb to include the New Brunswick Craft Council, New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, JEDI, Theatre New Brunswick, imagineNATIVE, CHRSC, APTN, CPSC, and more.
In her second year, Samaqani offered workshops with AAAPNB and ArtsLink to develop a broader network of support and also to offer training in the essential skills needed to build a sustainable arts practice. Year three’s workshops have been invaluable in helping artists learn how to plan the next steps in their art careers, market themselves, network, get comfortable in the digital space, and advance the entrepreneurial aspect of their practice. Her first-hand knowledge of the needs of Indigenous artists helped shape the content.
The positive, measurable outcomes through all these outreach activities include rising application rates from Indigenous artists across all artsnb programs; new inter-provincial collaborations. The rising participation in artsnb workshops has grown to the point that artsnb was able to secure a grant from the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL). This grant will enable a Workshop Facilitator to continue Samaqani’s work on the ground with Indigenous artists, offering six discipline-specific workshops over the next two years.
Over and above the tangible outcomes of her work, however, we’ve witnessed the growth of the willingness in Indigenous art communities to try new things and to collaborate with and trust people outside their own communities, and conversely, artists and arts organizations are increasingly keen to collaborate with Indigenous artists on creative projects.
Within her work with artsnb and outside it, Samaqani has succeeded in distinguishing herself as an important ambassador for Indigenous arts in New Brunswick and beyond. Hers is a voice that we do not doubt will continue to contribute to the development of arts and culture and Indigenous rights in our province. The artsnb team will miss her undeniable spirit, her bright laughter and her incredible devotion and passion for everything that she does.
Thank you, Samaqani, for your dedication to artsnb for these past three years. We can’t wait to see what you do next!