Honouring the Journey: A Visual Tribute to Mother Nature, Stewardship, and Generational Connections

St Kateri Mural’s opening with Grandmother Irene Compton (first nations Saulteaux from the Keeseekoose band in Saskatchewan) and Aurora Jade (Plains Cree from Peepeekisis First Nation)

On March 25 Grandmother Irene Compton conducted an opening ceremony for the mural on Indigenous Womanhood painted by MASC artist Aurora Jade in collaboration with 200 students from St. Matthew High School. The mural has been permanently installed at the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School.  

In Aurora’s words: “You are beautiful, you are strong, you are capable. You are not alone. I decided on those words to represent women standing together, strength, and unity. It is often you can feel alone especially as an indigenous woman“.   

Mural description as shared by Aurora: 

The image depicts mother nature, the strawberry plants and growth to honour the connection and stewardship of this land. The piece also depicts the red road. On the red road there are baby footprints that slowly turn into more mature adult moccasins with each step (these moccasins grow in size and have the corresponding beadwork and designs to represent the walk of life) .  

The woman in the middle of the red road has a small family and represents motherhood and strength, as well as the nurturing and caring nature of youth. She wears the same ribbon skirt as the woman at the end of the road because they are the same woman.  

At the end of the road, she has white hair and is being welcomed into the spirit world by the ancestors above her. I wanted the sky woman to wear a red dress to acknowledge our MMIWG and sisters in the spirit world.  

Underneath the sky woman is a sky dome design which is the spirit world above us. The night sky above includes the moon which has 13 dots inside to represent 13 moons to show our connection to grandmother moon as well as our moon time and the passing of seasons and time. The sky has a gradient of night to day, sun to moon. 

The Elder and Artist in Residency Program is an arts education program that pairs an Indigenous Elder with an Indigenous artist and offers students an in-depth and enriched artistic experience, providing an alternative lens to understand Indigenous ways of Knowing, Thinking, Feeling, and Being. The project introduces students to Indigenous culture through the arts. The Elder introduces students to Indigenous teachings through storytelling and songs, exploring concepts like land-based knowledge, the sacredness of water, holism, interrelatedness, reciprocity, Turtle Island, and the Medicine Wheel, among other teachings. Each project results in a mural installed permanently in the school.

This project was produced in partnership with the OCSB Indigenous Education team and the OCSB Arts consultants. We are grateful for the financial support of the Ottawa Community Foundation through the MASC Reconciliation Legacy Program.

MASC Arts Awards on CTV News Ottawa

MASC Arts Awards’ Honorary Patron, Jacqui Du Toit, was invited by CTV News Ottawa to talk about the MASC Arts Awards. This is an incredible opportunity for a student to receive a year-long scholarship at an arts school or a mentorship with an author. Nominate your student today!

December Newsletter 2023

Thank you to everyone who donated to or shared our Giving Tuesday campaign! We are still accepting contributions, and we can provide you with a charitable receipt for 2023 if you donate before the end of the year. Make a difference in a creative child’s life!

IllustrAuteurs kicks off today, and we can’t wait to spend the weekend surrounded by inspiring literary and visual artists and students.

Registrations are now open for the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival, MASC Arts Awards, and the Jan Andrews Literary Award.

Happy December!

Remembering Lola Ryan

We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Lola Ryan. As a MASC artist for almost three decades, Lola brought dance, movement and joy into classrooms and seniors’ venues, impacting thousands of people.  

Lola joined MASC in 1997, offering various dance workshops in schools, often working with everyday rubber balls.  It was extraordinary to see what she was able to achieve in a short time with students.  To background music, Lola encouraged the students to play with the balls, to engage with each other, to exaggerate their movements and then asked them to put the balls down.  Students then continued these movements without the balls, imagining the balls, and it was incredible to watch what unfolded: beautiful, spontaneous creative dance, filling the school gym.


Lola offered many school programs over the years, often collaborating with other MASC artists; for example, combining dance with drumming, offering cross-disciplinary experiences to students.  Lola’s programs were unique and creative and encouraged dance and movement from even the most reluctant participant.

“We don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.”

Lola Ryan

In 2017, Lola started offering workshops to older adults. Lola brought a sense of play to her workshops. Lola approached her workshops with a lens of inclusivity and a gentleness that created a space for everyone. Senior participants loved their sessions with Lola.

At MASC, we try to build a community of artists, administrators and supporters that is like a family. Lola never missed one of our 5 à 7 events and she was always an eager participant at our professional development days. She was always open to connecting with other artists and keen on finding ways to collaborate.

Lola was a uniquely creative and generous professional artist who always brought a sense of joie de vivre to her work. Our extended MASC family will miss her in so many ways.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Lola Ryan at the Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue in Ottawa, on Sunday May 19th in the afternoon. Details to follow.

November Newsletter 2023

November always seems to comes sooner than anticipated, yet it’s perpetually filled with the same exhilaration as it holds a wealth of opportunities for creative minds. 

This month we are quite excited to be launching our Giving Tuesday campaign. 

Teachers, the opportunity to win a FREE workshop is still up for grabs. All you have to do is take a few minutes to fill out our 2023 MASC Teachers’ Survey which is open until November 15. 

October Newsletter 2023

As the back-to-school buzz settles, seize the moment to plan exciting opportunities for the year ahead with the MASC Brochure 2023-2024. 

Whether you’re in search of artists for workshops, performances, residencies, or eager to discover new talents and touring artists, our brochure is your one-stop guide for quick and easy access to this information. Explore it here.

Enjoy “Your Monthly Dose of MASC,” featuring important dates, upcoming events, highlights from the previous month, and the exciting new “Did You Know?” section. Dive deeper into MASC with intriguing information and fun facts. Happy reading! 

September Newsletter 2023

Welcome back! We’re excited to be kicking off the new school year with some new faces and a few key changes to the MASC staff.

If you’re a teacher, keep an eye out for our 2023 MASC Teachers’ Survey, including your chance to win a FREE workshop!

Curious about what we’ve been up to this summer? Scroll down to read all about our Indigenous Awareness training in June and our first-ever Kitigan-Zibi Art & Culture Camp in July.

Canadian Multiculturalism Day 2023

Canadian Multiculturalism Day presents an opportunity to mark Canada’s unique and diverse cultural makeup, particularly through the arts and acknowledging of communities that are new to us.

MASC is an organization working in Ottawa to bring that diverse suite of arts opportunities directly to students and other members of the communiuty.

Patricia Boal is joined by longtime MASC member and multidisciplinary artist Claudia Salguero and classical Indian dancer and new MASC member Stuti Mukherjee to talk about their art, how working with MASC helps bring it to others, the importance of having that forum around days like Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and more.

Learning history through dance

“Jigging is tough. It’s all footwork. It’s a lot of quick foot movements. We like to be to be quick; we like to be high energy, and then there’s this hopping element that was added in from that First Nations powwow step that comes from the beating of the drum, the heartbeat of the earth.”

MASC artist Brad Lafortune was invited to share his knowledge of Métis jigging in advance of this past weekend’s workshop with the Ottawa Public Library. He also speaks about working in arts education for the past ten years and MASC’s Indigenous programming.

Watch the full interview on CBC Ottawa starting at 51:35 (near the end of the program).

Pride Month 2023

MASC is PROUD to celebrate our artists during Pride Month!

MASC was originally founded over 30 years ago by two women artists who were life partners and believed deeply in the value of arts education. Today, MASC continues its commitment to supporting artists across the 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum. We are proud to work with queer and transgender artists who bring their passion and creativity to schools and communities.

Aurora Jade – Indigenous visual arts
Jennifer Cayley – Storytelling
Makhena Rankin Guérin (Indigenous Experiences) – Hoop dancing
Brad Lafortune – Métis jigging
Deidre Hierlihy – Visual Arts
Renata Soutter (Propeller Dance) – Inclusive contemporary dance
Lola Ryan – Dance
Zoey Roy – Hip hop, spoken word, songwriting

National Indigenous History Month 2023

June is National Indigenous History Month!

Create a mural, make some music, and learn some new dance steps with First Nations artists, as we recognize the rich history, creativity, and diversity of Indigenous peoples.

Aurora Jade – Murals, Medicine Bags, Storytelling, and Music
David Finkle – Turtle Island Music
Amanda Fox looking forward proudly smilling outdoors on a sunny day. Her clothing is colourful in yellows, reds, and blues, and has traditional floral designs. There are tassels across her shoulders and her earrings are large yellow circles with a large red bead in the center. She looks radiant!
Amanda Fox – Powwow Workout
Zoey Roy – Songwriting, Rap, and Spoken Word

Lowertown community shines at Awesome Arts Festival

The Lowertown community had a great time at MASC’s Awesome Arts Festival that took place on Friday March 31st at Viscount Alexander Public School.

Alongside professional performances by Oto-Wa Taiko (Japanese drumming), Julianne Lavertu of Cultural Arts Studio (Afro-Caribbean dance), Stuti Mukherjee (Indian classical dance) and Just Gumboots (South-African gumboot dance), community members of all ages from Lowertown and Sandy Hill took to the stage and screen to share the creations they’ve been working on through the winter months. Several partners, including the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Reconnect Ontario, provided key funding for these art residencies.

Highlights included the premiere of a music video created by Lowertown youth with JustJamaal ThePoet and videographer Craig Conoley. This project was supported by a SHINE Youth Led Arts grant from Crime Prevention Ottawa and the United Way/Centraide Eastern Ontario in partnership with the Lowertown Community Resource Centre.

Claudia Salguero MASC artist

Audiences also had the chance to experience Louis Mercier’s traditional French-dance workshops with seniors at 160 Charlotte, captured in a mini-documentary by videographer Shaun Elie.

Lowertown students from the École catholique Sainte-Anne performed live onstage in a dance routine choreographed and developed with the Bboyizm Dance Company.

The celebrations continued through Saturday April 1st in the Arts Court Atelier where artworks created during Awesome Arts, including an environmental mural led by Claudia Salguero and Emily Rose Michaud at York Street Public School, were shared in a public vernissage. Live music by Colores Andinos and a hands-on birch-bark art workshop with Louis Mercier rounded out the event.

Mural Claudia Salguero, Emily-Rose Michaud Creative Collaboration York St Public School Awesome Arts 2023

Claudia Salguero, a MASC artist originally from Colombia and known for her colourful, larger-than-life murals explained what Awesome Arts means to her and others.

This is my 4th MASC Awesome Arts and I feel so honoured! I have created seven murals for the program. It is a gift to us as art educators to see kids empowered by the experience and proud of their own creation and message to future generations. As a MASC artist I feel honoured to have seen, over the years, the pride of the community grow through Awesome Arts while discovering and showcasing their talents in so many artistic disciplines.

MASC is grateful to our Lowertown partners for supporting the Awesome Arts program for the past 14 years. It’s always such a treat to see the community shine!

Originally published by the Lowertown Echo