Saturday, October 9, 2010


imagineNATIVE October 20-24, 2010 in Toronto! A time for the Indigenous community from around the world to come out and play - and dress-up!

Add your name to a growing guest list for a private INDIGENOUS FUSION & FASHION show of Nuu-chah-nulth textile art by J'net A. Cavanagh and other guest clothing and jewellery designers!!

Admission by donation - RSVP
Once you have sent your RSVP you will receive your personalized invitation and location for INDIGENOUS FUSION & FASHION!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010
2:30 pm Dessert Reception
Central-Toronto, ON


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art as Medicine!

How lucky am I to have been able to attend the 8th Annual National Aboriginal Network for Arts Administration Gathering recently hosted in Alberta! The theme of this years event was "Art as Medicine!" Wow - this powerful concept was a strong subject for the more than 40 participants to discuss!

For me Art as Medicine helped me keep my sanity in my 20 year counseling career, a means to bring creativity into working toward personal and community wellness. A soft landing for people to explore their creative strengths while smoothing the rough edges in their lives.

Art has become the foundation of my identity and who I am becoming as a textile artist to preserve the oral teachings found in the designs I work with. Thanks to Geraldine and Jaret (Sun and Moon Gallery in Edmonton) for coordinating this wonderful event! Thanks to Cynthia Lickers-Sage for taking the photo you see here!

Our major activity at this gathering was an art therapy Body-Mapping exercise lead by Jean Tate. Inspired by the radiance of my little guy Taliesen I designed my PLAYFUL ABUNDANCE self-care body-map guided by his natural brilliance represented by the yellow and colourful rainbow accent!

I also wish to thank Louise Profeit-Leblanc from the Canada Council for the Arts for inviting everyone to invoke the names of those who inspired us and have since gone onto the spirit world! I send my graditude out to the late Uncle Jimmy August, the late Grma Ida Swan August Shish, the late Grma Caroline Little, the late foster-dad Harry Seaton Curwood, my late brother John August and the late Ellen Monague from Christian Island!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cross-cultural appreciation for cedar bark weaving

While at the Planet IndigenoUS Festival, my friends Jules and Jake offered to pose wearing my woven cedar bark hat. Both Jules and Jake are of Cree ancestry from Northern Ontario and shared their admiration for the support I received from the Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant to preserve the cedar bark harvest and weaving traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth on Vancouver Island.

I have found wearing my cedar bark hat was a natural conversation starter and consistently stirred surprise when I explained I made it with the help of a weaving mentor Geraldine Edgar Tom and support from Canada Council for the Arts. Seeing people wear these beautiful cedar bark woven creations are commonplace back home in BC and is a welcome sight to my west coast eyes to see my growing urban community of friends willing to try the hat on while at the Toronto 2009 Harbroufront Planet IndigenoUS Festival.

Sharing the joy of cedar bark @ Planet IndigenoUS

Planet IndigenoUS Master of Ceremony and CBC anchor Carla Robinson photographed here looking stunning in the cedar bark hat I learned to weave from mentor Geraldine Edgar Tom thanks to the Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant I was awarded.

Carla and I have known one another for the past couple decades after meeting while we both attended Carleton University in Ottawa back in the late 1980s! Both being from BC offers some wild west coast spirited energy as we both live so far from home! The cedar tree, including the bark are both a major part of our respective Nuu-chah-nulth and Kitimat cultures. Carla wears my cedar woven hat with a natural west coast flare!

Thanking Canada Council for the Arts @ Planet IndigenoUS

While working at the 2009 Harbourfront Centre's Planet IndigenoUS Festival at the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts - ANDPVA information table - I brought my cedar bark hat, hairbands I have woven since returning from my BC harvest and sample pieces of cedar bark to clean and prepare for weaving.

The public who visited the ANDPVA information table were also drawn in to ask what I was busy doing. One woman who appeared to speak little English asked if what I was weaving with was the skin of the tree? I clarified that is exactly what the cedar bark was. She nodded in understanding.

This connection with international festival goers was an ideal venue to explain to people my gratitude for the weaving mentorship of Geraldine Edgar Tom due to the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant that allowed me to fly home to BC to participate in the annual cedar bark harvest that must happen before the end of June.

Wish come true with support from Canada Council for the Arts

Happy to update my creative happenings by publicly thanking Canada Council for the Arts honouring me with an Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant to go home this past June 2009 to harvest cedar bark and learn to weave a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth hat from weaving mentor Geraldine Edgar Tom.

A seven-day whiiiiiiiirlwind trip to Vancouver Island is what I was able to enjoy with support from the Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant. Prior to meeting with weaving mentor Geraldine Edgar Tom to harvest cedar in the Ditidaht territory, I was able to also meet with a number of additional cedar bark weavers. There were National Aboriginal Day Celebrations with BBQ sockeye salmon to greet me and my 10-month old son in Port Alberni in the Nuu-chah-nulth southern region on Vancouver Island. I enjoyed seeing how innovative other cedar bark weavers were in how they worked with weaving in different ways. Weaving ranged from traditional headbands and capes worn as regalia for ceremonial occasions, as well as modern earrings, hairbands, bracelets and embellished picture frames. I was able to learn various techniques and teachings from our common Nuu-chah-nulth ancestry that ranged from very formal discussions of the ceremonial gratitude involved with the harvest to the innovative modern alternatives, like glass or plastic salad bowls used as a mold to weave our traditionally shaped hats. The bowl suggestions came with a warning that people will likely laugh at me as I try the bowl on my head for size.

Uu-shuck-she-clayets-thanks to Geraldine Edgar Tom for her time, teachings and inspiration to be a part of the next generation to preserve the timeless Nuu-chah-nulth weaving techniques. Uu-shuck-she-clayets-thanks to Delores Baine, Maria Seitcher, Alice Sam, Julie Joseph, Katie and Laura Fraser for sharing your inspiring mastery of your weaving craft and encouragement! Uu-shuck-she-clayets-thanks to the ancestral territory of Ditidaht for sharing a part of your rain forest to bring back to Toronto and carry on Nuu-chah-nulth weaving traditions in big city of three-million! Uu-shuck-she-clayets-Thanks again to the Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Collaborative Exchange Travel Grant Program for their generous support and continued efforts to assist with the preservation of Indigenous art forms for future generations to enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Unexpected emotion to loving comments about the Koous Collection

Below are comments I received from one of my husband's colleagues - Olivia's heartfelt words struck me deeply and stirred up much emotion about why my work as a textile artist is a vital way to express myself and celebrate the resiliency of Aboriginal peoples! Thank you Olivia!

I wanted to send a few words about your creations

I profoundly believe that we must reclaim our spirits; that part of becoming healthier and wholesome is to bring back the essence that has been taken from us by political agendas that want us segregated and alienated …. sometimes by our own complacency. Some of us have the opportunity to call back our spirits by the work we do. What I see/understand from your fashion creations is colour, fabric, dreams, memories, stories….i imagine a woman, wearing one of your garments, moving to the rhythm of some story only you knew when you conjured that specific piece of clothe, and yet, the order and sequence of colour shape and texture change and evolve with each individual. It is a bit like story telling, isn’t it?! And, I guess is a bit like poetry…at least that’s what I thought when I read: “I also lucked out at a garage sale last summer with finding a wonderful spool of gold thread to outline the applique.” Please J’net, make me a gown with those words and definitely outline the appliqué with that wonderful spool of gold thread!

Congratulations and success,