An Anishnaabe Kwe’s Dream-Catcher

An Anishnaabe Kwe’s Dream-Catcher

Indigenous artist Keitha Keeshig-Tobias Biizindam has created an Indigenous mural on a shipping container that park visitors can check out in Trillium Park from now until the end of September.

The design focuses on (4) key pillars – each represented on the four sides of the container.

Culture Back

Seen through the image of an Indigenous mother and her baby. The mother’s hair is shaped like a Dream-catcher – catching her nightmares of BIRTH-ALERTS, #MMIWG2ST, BOIL WATER ADVISORIES, STAR-LIGHT-TOURS, COERCED ADOPTION FOR MEDICAL TREATMENTS, TRAFFICKING and SYSTEMIC RACISM, so that the sunlight can melt the nightmares away and allow her dreams for her child to flourish.

Language Back

Uses positive Anishnaabemowin words/phrases throughout the design including I am brave, I am wise, etc.
Inzhawendaagoz – I am blessed
Inzaagichigaaz – I am loved
Ninitaawe – I am a skilled speaker
Nimashkawizii – I have inner strength
Ninibwaakaa – I am wise
Nimiigwendam – I am thankful
Niminwaabamwiz – I am respected
Inzoongide’e – I am brave

Ceremonies Back

Incorporates Ojibwe Syllabics of Anishnaabe ceremonial elements in its design. Elements include Tobacco, Sage, Fire, etc.
Tobacco – Asemaa
Sage – shkodawabuk
Sweetgrass – wiingask
Cedar – geeshik
Water – nibi
Soil – aki
Fire- shkode
Strawberry – ode’min

Land Back

Features chemical structures of Indigenous Scientific Discoverys including chocolate, paraffin wax and more – long before contact, it is only now that Western Science is starting to understand the depth of Indigenous scientific knowledge.
CURARE – neuromuscular blocking agent
BENZOYLMETHYLECGONINE – analgesic used in surgeries pre-contact
VITAMIN C – cure for scurvy
PARAFFIN WAX – one of the main constituents of petroleum jelly a medicinal base for topical treatments
QUININE – cure for Malaria, flavouring in Tonic Water
SALICYLIC ACID – analgesic found in willow, natural aspirin
PETROLATATUM – one of the main constituents of petroleum jelly a medicinal base for topical treatments
POPULIN – analgesic found in popular buds

About the Artist

My name is Keitha Keeshig-Tobias Biizindam (she who listens and learns and uses what she hears). I am Anishinaabe from Neyaashiinigamiing Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation & Delaware Nation from Moraviantown. I am a versatile modern artist based in Toronto that specializes in bringing forth complex issues and inspiration with beauty and grace. My style N8V-Nouveau, which incorporates science, history, current affairs, empathy, and gracefulness in its meanings while exploring the use of medias like paintings, murals and jewelry/textile beadwork. My favourite medium is dipped pen and ink, especially blue ink which is the inspiration for many of my works.

The blue is like twilight, a time of transition; blue like the water, which is Anishinaabe women’s privilege to cherish and protect. I have painted a variety of murals in Toronto including working with the Red Urban Nation Artist Collective, StreetART Toronto and private commissions. Other mediums commissioned include textiles, beadwork jewelry & multi-media artworks.

My street art/murals carry strong messages of resilience, reclamation and pride and highlight the vastness of Indigenous knowledge. The reason I put such strong messages in my work is to offer my younger cousins & Indigenous youth evidence of the amazing scientific, medical, agricultural, psychological & ecological knowledge that has been APPROPRIATED BY WESTERN SOCIETY. I want to instill pride in youth who have been taught, through neglect and outright lies, that they are not worthy, and that they are a burden because of their ethnicity.