Local artist wins 2015 TD Michaëlle Jean Bursaries

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photo from Facebook

The Michaëlle Jean and TD Bank Group announce the recipients of the 2015 edition of the TD Michaëlle Jean Bursaries.

This year, three innovative young artists caught the attention of the jury. Working in underprivileged or marginalized communities in Canada, they combine, in their own way, arts and civic engagement. The TD Michaëlle Jean Bursaries will enable them to work on ensuring the sustainability of their projects and creating new initiatives. The $10,000 bursaries will also provide them with tools that will help them revitalize their communities.

Among the recipients is Rihkee Strapp, a Metis of the Wolverine clan who was born in Red Lake, Ontario. Inspired by their struggle of being a young queer emerging artist in Northern Ontario, Rihkee is interested in raising the socio-economic status of underrepresented artists from the Algoma District, and Northern Ontario. The struggle to be financially independent as an artist led Rihkee to positions in Arts Administration and community organizing. Rihkee has worked locally at the Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie and District, as well as nationally as the program coordinator for the Arts Network for Children based in Toronto. Rihkee co-founded the Medicine Factory Studio in 2010 with a group of youth artists, which at the time was an empty industrial building. The building is now referred to as the Galleria of Shops, and is a flourishing art centre in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Inspired by an artist collective called the Triple K Cooperative Rihkee also founded the Red Lake Youth Arts Collective, in Red Lake, which was mostly comprised of high school aged youth and adult allies. Rihkee recently completed the Studio Y Fellowship at the MaRS Discovery District, where they were able to build their capacity in social enterprise, project management, emotional intelligence, new technologies, graphic facilitation, and systems thinking. For their bursary, Rihkee will be bringing this experience to build the capacity of underrepresented artists, and community organizers in Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma through programming and working collaboratively with community stakeholders. This program of workshops will include: creating a business model canvas, project development & management, using new technologies, artful equity & anti-oppression, and advocacy.

The other recipients of the 2015 TD Michaëlle Jean Bursaries are:
• Pascale Arpin: an Ottawa native who moved to Nunavut in 2011. She has worked there as an artist and program coordinator for youth. The bursary will enable her to promote traditional modes of expression and contemporary art techniques, through a program she developed in Iqaluit, throughout Nunavut.
• Rebecca Roher: based in Toronto and working in the area of education, Rebecca is also an accomplished visual artist. Over the years, her cartoons and illustrations were published in several specialized magazines. Her latest cartoon was also published in the New York Times, Now Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, and Yahoo about parenthood. She is currently working on establishing an education program in public libraries across Toronto to initiate young people into writing and cartooning.

The three bursary winners will be featured at the third annual Power of the Arts National Forum: Sustaining Social Change, taking place at Carleton University in Ottawa, from November 6 to 8, 2015. It will gather more than 200 researchers, jurists, policymakers, health practitioners, business leaders, artists, youth to discuss how arts, academic research and community engagement can drive sustainable human development across Canada and abroad.