June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Twitter is home to thousands of unique Indigenous voices from across the land. It’s often the best place to find a true pulse on these conversations plus opinions, news and views of the day.
Our friends at Open Canada (@OpenCanada) recently published a list of Indigenous influencers on social media, celebrating the contributions of Indigenous peoples to policy in Canada and on the international stage. Read more about their list here.
In 2018, we worked with Chippewa/Potawatomi artist Chief Lady Bird (@ChiefLadyBird) to design a custom Twitter emoji for Indigenous History Month, held each June and marked by events across Canada. @ChiefLadyBird was able to share her design with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (@Jack) during his visit to Toronto in April 2019.
Chief Lady Bird also encouraged us to ask for a new emoji form different indigenous artists in the future. This year we worked with Janelle Wawia (@embracecreative).
Janelle is a self-taught artist from Opwaaganisining First Nation, also known as Red Rock Band or Lake Helen Reserve, north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Janelle is fueled by spending time with family at her family’s cabin and trap lines. She is a multidisciplinary Anishinaabe artist.
Janelle often combines contemporary and traditional, yet innovative fashion, using fur, leather, fabric and textiles in her art work that are often influenced by the spirit world. She is also a painter. Her focus is on women and her connections to the land. Janelle has won a Juror’s award from the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (@THEAG33) for her Fur Hood Scarf in 2014 and in 2016, she won the Barbara Laronde Award through Native Women in the Arts in Toronto, ON, an award for emerging Indigenous female artists in Northern Ontario (@infoNWIA). She also contributes to her community through art programming with youth and her fashion designs were shown at the 2018 Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, New Moon Runway Showcase (@IFWTO).
Janelle’s emoji is her rendition of a moose hide on a stretcher. Before woven cloth was introduced by Europeans, animal skins were used for clothing, footwear, shelter and shelter.
Janelle shares “From trying to tan moose hide on my own and then learning from Dene Nahjo (@DeneNahjo) and master hide tanners from the Northwest Territories and Alberta, I am deep in my dreams of tanning my own hides. The smell. The hard work. The conversations. The friendships. The tough times and the beautiful moments. I am forever grateful.”
Janelle hopes her design will help encourage traditional or new memories, sharing of culture, love and pride to Indigenous History Month conversations on Twitter. For the month of June, the emoji will unlock on Twitter every time you send a Tweet using one of the following hashtags:
For more information on Janelle and to see samples of her art, visit her embracecreative website.