Hoop Dance Portraits

During the spring of 2015 I had the privilege and wonderful opportunity to visit the Avenue Photography Studio in the east side of Winnipeg, Manitoba owned by the creative founder, Robert Dearden. We had the chance to collaborate together in order to capture some shots of dance and “indigenized” portraits. I was very grateful for the opportunity and impressed with the final copies.

Robert Dearden has always been a well known photographer in our community. He studied photography at Red River College and shoots a range of photography including studio portraiture, community and multicultural events, weddings, newborns and maternity,  powwows and many others. He attends these events here in Winnipeg and throughout the province with his camera and gear in hand making sure to capture the right moments. He also appreciates the art of photography and honours the importance of quality and value. His work can be found on his Facebook page by clicking HERE or his personal website at www.robertdeardenphotography.com

Below I have posted some of my favourite’s from the shoot but there is lots more of where they came from so if you would like to see more just suggest it down in the comments and I may just post a part two. I also strongly recommend checking out Robert’s work and supporting his local business. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I do. I am also taking bookings for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016 so if you would like my services as a hoop dancer, fancy shawl dancer or speaker you can contact me by filling out a contact form below. I would love to hear from you!

kinanâskomitin / Thank You.

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Music Festival Season

Music Festival season is upon us and it’s glorious.
The summer heat mixed with the satisfying sounds of music flowing into our ears.
Giving us that sense that every little thing is going to be fine, reality forgotten.
The exhilarating feeling of unity as every individual around you embodies the same vibes,
flowing into their bodies creating electric movements and exposing their soul.
Time ceases to exist, living in that moment, for that moment.
The excitement of greeting old and new friends,
acceptance and love felt from all.

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IMG_7796 (1)One of my all time favorite music festivals is our local festival here known as the “Winnipeg Folk Festival”. However, I must admit this is the only one I have been too but I have a wishlist of others I’d love to attend in the future including Coachella, SummerFest, Lollapalooza, etc. This was my 3rd year camping at Folk Fest and it was the best one yet. From the moment you  lineup to even enter the parking lot you are greeted with constant cheers, happy vibes, friendly volunteers/workers and many unique things that put a smile on your face. Once you’re in and have scoped out the perfect camping spot equipped with trees (a.k.a morning shade so you don’t wake up in a sauna at 8am), a fire pit for late night shenanigans and jam sessions and being somewhat close to the campground amenities (but not too close, you don’t want to be smelling everyone’s discretion’s) you can finally enjoy the rest of the festival.

IMG_7813Some of my personal highlights of folk fest was the discovery of new artists such as Bobby Bizini from Quebec with a soothing indie voice and adorable timid presentation, Birds of Chicago and their impressive blended harmonies and playing of instruments, Nahko and the Medicine of the People with his empowering lyrical performances and thrilling engagement with the crowd and of course the many other beautiful and unique artists that graced the stages of folk fest. I also enjoyed the artists I knew such as Jose Gonzales with his calming voice and indie vibes and of course Leonard Sumner who kicked ass from main stage to solo concerts to group workshops, his insightful words and lyrics enlightening us all and representing our indigenous communities with such pride, grace and style. Each new day was full of wanders through the festival, naps in the shade, friends by my side, incredible artistry, music heard from every direction, delicious food and being surrounded by wonderful, friendly, loving, accepting, like-minded people (except the one young woman who had the courage and the nerve to wear a headdress and face full of tribal print paint – like, really?).

 

IMG_7786Now, the festival campground – that’s a whole other story!
That’s when us true folkies come to life, that’s when the music festival doesn’t end! It goes on all night until dawn and continues and repeats again. That’s when we all mingle, meet each other, make friends with our neighbors and our neighbors neighbors. That’s when you experience the oddity yet fascinating side to the festival such as the many animation stations operating 24/7 like the wardrobe closet with parades of people coming in and out in outrageous costumes or the Vinyl Village with endless quirky instruments and jam sessions happening non-stop. You also experience sunsets and sunrises from atop pope’s hill or campsites you can see a mile away because they are pouring gasoline into their fire and you go to check it out and join in their song..“gasoliiiiine I loooooove yooouuu, I love you gasoooooline”. The festival campground and the festival itself is always so hard to explain and there is always something going on and too many things happen in the duration of the 5 day festival that you can’t recount every single adventure to those who ask. I simply say that it’s something people need to experience for themselves to really see and feel what folk fest is like. It’s truly a wonderful event and I imagine that other music festivals must feel this way. It has it’s own specific music festival feeling.

I hope that many of you festival goers understand that feeling I’m talking about and those who haven’t experienced one yet, I only hope you’ll get the chance to attend one in your lifetime. I feel like a lot of people have presumptions of music festivals to the point where it prohibits them from attending and their judgments get the best of them. They assume it’s just a wild hippy world of naked people mixed with drugs and alcohol and I won’t lie, there are the few that do represent that stereotype but it’s not all that way, not everyone participates in that lifestyle. Music festivals, specifically Folk Fest are inviting to all and that’s the beauty of it. Anyone, not matter your age, race, sex, gender, background, etc can feel comfortable and accepted and come together with a common cause to enjoy the music and to be themselves. I remember thinking after my first festival experience that if everyone in the world participated in this festival, the world would be a better place.

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One of the many reasons why I fell in love with Folk Fest
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Birds of Chicago performing in Shady Grove
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Beautiful lady singer from Birds of Chicago
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Nahko and the Medicine of the People rocking main stage
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Leonard Sumner impressing the crowds and representing our Indigenous communities with pride

 

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Jose Gonzales soothing our hearts on main stage
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Winnipeg thunderstorm cancelling the grand finale of Folk Fest

Let’s Talk

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January 28th, 2015 marked an important day. Million’s of people brought down their walls and began a dialogue concerning mental health and wellness in hopes to diminish the stigma, re-direct our language choices and support one another.

I decided that this would be the time to also share my story despite how anxious and afraid I am to do so and have been for as long as I could remember. First off, I need to be clear that I am not sharing this for any attention or sympathy whatsoever, I am simply sharing it in hopes to reach out to at least one person who also may be too anxious to discuss how they are feeling and to spread awareness that it’s important to re-shape how we think about mental health and wellness.

For years and to this day, I have dealt with anxiety/panic attacks and periods of depression. It was at its worst through high school where I tended to withdraw myself and enclose myself with feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, and weakness. I would constantly ask myself questions in my mind such as, “Why am I feeling this way? Why am I so stupid? why am I so weak” After thinking this way nearly every single day it came to the point one night which resulted in a one-time case of self harm and thinking how easy it could be to end everything. I was a mess, I hated who I was and who I saw in the mirror, I hated the way I felt and I had no idea how it would get better. This terrified me and I knew for sure that something was wrong. I ended up talking with a close family member but even then I was too hesitant to discuss the full details and the full extent of the situation. Explaining and releasing those bottled up feelings felt great and to hear and feel listened to really made a difference. I didn’t tell anyone up to that point all of what I was feeling and thinking. I was afraid of losing friends, I was afraid of disappointing my family, I was afraid of what everyone would think. In all honesty, I’m still afraid but I’ve been inspired by others who had shared their story so courageously and I felt like it was something I needed to.  I needed to be honest, to be real and truthful with my situation.

I feel as though many who know me view me as a smiley, happy, strong person who can get up in front of an audience no problem when really deep down on some days I don’t truly feel that way and a lot of  times the way I’m feeling or used to feel is hidden behind a smile. It’s very frightening how easy it is to hide that and if something wrong peeks through it’s so simple to just state that I’m tired or not feeling well and the discussion ends.

To this day I still find myself thinking negatively and I have many days where I feel lost or I break down and get in that state of mind again. Or I’ll have days where I tend to withdraw myself from everything and just want to curl up in my bed at home. This can last as little as an hour, can turn into a day or can even go on for weeks. I still deal a lot with anxiety and panic attacks as well but I’m slowly learning what to do in those situations, how to deal with it in a healthy way and I can say that I’ve come a long way from where I used to be. I still have a long road ahead but I’m determined to try to learn how to love myself humbly and greatly and to re-shape my thinking behaviors with hopes of inspiring other young women or girls who may be going through the same things I had and still are at this point in my life. Children, youth, young adults and even seniors shouldn’t feel ashamed of what they are truly feeling and shouldn’t have that fear of being  judged. We are all human and most of us have dealt with mental health or has known someone who has. The issues surrounding mental health and the way everyone perceives it is in a state of transition and it’s a good start to be discussing it in our communities. We are showing the youth and everyone that it’s okay, that it’s normal and something that shouldn’t be shameful.

I hope that this transition and journey toward better understanding continues and that we will see a day where people feel safe and comfortable enough to share how they are feeling and that the societies way of dealing with mental health improves. If any of you are reading this right now and need someone to talk to, someone to rant to or maybe need some advice, I’m always open to listen. You can shoot me a message anytime. I will also leave a list of resources below if you or someone you know may need them. Love you all, let’s take care of one another.

WORLD SUICIDE HOTLINES:

Austria 01-713-3373
Australia 1-800-817-569
Barbados 429-9999
Brazil 21-233-9191
Canada 514-723-4000
China 852-2382-0000
Costa Rica 506-253-5439
Denmark 70-201-201
Egypt 7621602
Estonia 6-558-088
Finland 040-5032199
France 01-45-39-4000
Guatemala 502-254-1259
Holland 0900-0767
Honduras 504-237-3623
Hungary 62-420-111
India 91-22-307-3451
Italy 06-7045-4444
Japan 3-5286-9090
Maylaysia 03-756-8144
Maurititus 46-48-889 or 800-93-93
Mexico 525-510-2550
New Zealand 4-473-9739
Nicarague 505-268-6171
Norway 815-33-300
Poland 52-70-000
Portugal 239-72-10-10
Republic of Ireland 1850-60-90-90
Russia 8-20-222-82-10
Singapore 800-221-4444 or 000-227-0309
South Africa 0861-322-322
South Korea 2-715-8600
Spain 91-459-00-50
Sri Vincent 1-692-909
St. Vincent 809-456-1044
Sweden 031-711-2400
Switzerland 143
Thailand 02-249-9977
Trinidad & Tobago 868-645-2800
Ukraine 0487-327715 or 0482-226565
United Kingdom 08457-90-90-90
United States 1-800-SUICIDE (7842433), or 1-800-TALK (8255), or 1-800-827-7571

 

RESOURCES SPECIFICALLY IN WINNIPEG, MB

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Self Doubt, Insecurities, Etc.

332Self doubt. we all have it from time to time. some more than others. In fact, I’ve had major self doubt about this post. I haven’t written anything in awhile because I’ve been over thinking on what kind of content to write. Should I write about serious personal stories? perhaps a comedic piece? or how about just some photography? maybe a story about an upcoming event? so many things crossed my mind and then I would scratch them out because I would think that it wasn’t interesting enough. Then I got to the point where I was questioning my previous posts. After way too much thinking about what to write next I realized how ridiculous I was being.

I started questioning myself, why do I always worry about what others think? why do I always compare myself to other people or other blogs? I can write about whatever the hell my little heart desires! Then I got to thinking that I’m not the only one who does this. Just by reading this post so far you can imagine how deeply I think into things and how my train of thought can be crazy sometimes. Anyways, after all of this wondering I starting thinking, why do so many of us doubt ourselves? maybe it’s the messages and images put out by the media or the way society raised us or maybe it’s just all simply a part of human nature. I guess no one really knows. This is starting to turn into a ramble which is alright and I’m glad that I warned you about ramblings in my blog title and my first post entitled, “New Beginnings”. So don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Anyways, after all this thinking of self doubt, insecurities and things related to this I started wondering about how it would be if more of us started to not worry about what others thought, if we lived in a world without self doubt. Sure, there must be a balance of consciousness obviously, we don’t necessarily want murderers to be running around our neighborhoods confidently. But what if that boy down the street wasn’t afraid to go after his dreams, what if that woman went beyond her self doubt and created a masterpiece of art, what if YOU moved beyond all that self doubt, all those insecurities and purely did what you loved without worrying about what the outcome would be. Sure, they may be individuals out there who have come to this epiphany way earlier that I did and they are doing this as we speak but my point is, we all have the potential to do great things, we all have the potential to create wondrous things! It may sound incredibly cliche but it’s true. We may fall down sometimes and we may fail but with hard work, passion and moving beyond those fears we can all bring great things.

There is so much things I would love to do and things I’ve been wanting to do or try for a very long time. I also find that I compare myself to other people  who are doing all these cool things which lead to me saying, you know what..I can do that! Instead of holding back in fear of being judged, envying others who are doing them and forever being to afraid to try, I should just get off my lazy ass, shut up my loud insecure mind and do it!  I’m taking it upon myself to move past my comfort zone and finally do all the things I’ve been wanting to try or do and I challenge all of you who are reading this right now to do the same! Life is all about experiences and learning from them, I know that far off in the future I don’t want to regret not trying something just because of fear of being judged or fear of failing. But please take into account, I am not advising that we all go try the new drugs or that new cocktail at the bar. Everyone has their limits, everyone has their choices so please move past your comfort zones responsibly.

Let me know in the comments below what you’ll do next!

50 Ways To Cheer Yourself Up

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“Because we all need cheering up from time to time.”

  1. Make funny faces to yourself in the mirror
  2. Blast your favorite music
  3. Start dancing like nobody’s watching
  4. Belt out and sing your favorite song
  5. Text or call a good friend or relative
  6. Watch baby goats on Youtube
  7. Watch baby leemurs on Youtube
  8. Watch baby animals in general on Youtube
  9. Watch babies on Youtube
  10. Try to picture a T-Rex making it’s bed
  11. Google, “hilarious puns” – enjoy
  12. Google, “awckward family portraits” – enjoy
  13. Cuddle with anything near you such as a pillow, or a pet, or a significant other
  14. Depending on weather, go for a nice run or walk around the block
  15. If it sucks ass outside, go for a nice run or walk around your house
  16. Indulge in chocolate or any other favorite sweets
  17. Order your favorite pizza because pizza = life
  18. Make a fort
  19. Watch a comedic film
  20. Watch a comedic television show
  21. Make a list of things you’re excited for
  22. Paint a picture
  23. Draw a picture
  24. Create a collage of all your favorite things
  25. Prank call someone
  26. Play dress up with your own clothes and make ridiculous outfits
  27. Play with your hair, create ridiculous looking hairstyles
  28. Drink some tea or another hot delicious beverage
  29. Play with a baby or child
  30. Realize how creepy that last point sounded
  31. Read motivational/inspirational quotes
  32. Reassure yourself that things can ALWAYS be worse
  33. Cheer someone else up, the positive energy and knowing you made their day can feel good
  34. Smile – Sometimes it can trick your brain into feeling happy
  35. If that last point doesn’t work, smile bigger with wide eyes and everything
  36. Realize how ridiculous you must look
  37. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back
  38. Give yourself a well deserved self hug
  39. Find someone to hug
  40. Have a bubble bath. You’re NEVER too old for bubble baths
  41. Do something you love
  42. Bake a cupcake then have it all to yourself
  43. Take deep breaths. Imagine you’re inhaling positive and exhaling negative
  44. Remind yourself of everything good in your life
  45. Rant. Even if its to nobody
  46. Go out with some friends
  47. Spend time with your family
  48. Play a game
  49. Find ways to relax such as meditation or yoga
  50. Find the strength to believe that even this storm shall pass

Goodluck! 🙂
what are other ways that helped cheer you up?

Sorry If I’m Not Distracted.

Through Imagethe last couple of years I have attended conferences, peace rallies, protests, etc. Every direction I’ve gone I have learned a harsh truth about our society. I started feeling overwhelmed with these issues that have never been brought to my attention before. I’ve discovered the millions of women across the globe being caught in cycles of abuse. I’ve discovered that many Indigenous and Non-Indigenous women are still going missing and are still being murdered. I’ve discovered that the government and other officials aren’t doing much about these women and not starting any inquiries. I’ve discovered that Indigenous communities up north – in our own backyard – are living in 3rd world like conditions. I’ve discovered the inter-generational effects of Residential schools and the thousands of horrifying stories from residential school survivors themselves.The fact that so many people, especially our youth, each year, end up taking their own lives.

There is so much more I can say that I have heard, stories and speeches that I’ve listened to. Cries for help and prayers for action to be taken. I have witnessed frustration, urgency and most importantly hope.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that so many people are oblivious to the actual truth and to the harsh dark realities that are in the world. I almost feel as though most of the world are distracted or maybe they choose not to be faced with this awareness. The fact is, millions of children, millions of people YOUR age are going through horrifying things right now. It’s come to the point where even the safety of our own planet is at stake and the safety of a sustainable future is at risk.
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I have found a frustration when the people around me are distracted by other things such as Miley Cyrus’ latest twerking debut, The latest fashion trend, Justin Bieber’s latest DUI, Getting the hottest new phone, etc. I’ll admit and be honest that I have been caught within these distractions that the media and dominant culture portrays from time to time but after becoming aware of much larger things I have just grown frustration to our mainstream society.  I also start to get frustrated when people view me as a “superhero” simply because I involve myself with many different community organizations and youth groups. I am not even close to being a superhero. The true hero’s are the mother’s who travel miles and miles a day to retrieve clean water for their families. The true hero’s are those children who have the strength and courage to tell their stories despite the many risks they face. The true hero’s have faced far greater adversities that I have ever faced in my lifetime.

All I ask of you – if you have continued reading to this point – is to wake yourselves up and wake up those who are around you. Make yourselves aware, let’s educate each other and begin a dialogue as to how we can move forward and start tackling these issues a little at time. Everything will take a group effort and if magnitudes of us come together we can create the change we want to see. By each person doing their small part it can really make a difference. We all have a choice and I’m asking for you to choose the path of awareness and to think a little less of those everyday distractions.

Thank you for sticking until the end. Take care ♡

New Beginnings

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Hey Everyone!
Spring has arrived! although the weather outside doesn’t feel or look like it at all, it still has a lot of catching up to do. we must be just a little more patient.

Anyways, spring always gives me that sense of new beginnings, turning over a new leaf and starting something new so I have created this new blog which is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. I hope to share my experiences through writing,photographs and other forms of media on this blog and I promise the posts will get more interesting. This new blog is only the beginning of the exciting new opportunities that lay ahead. I will be doing lots of travelling in the upcoming years, getting involved within the community, performing in various locations and taking part in festivities that require ramblings of words and thoughts. I only hope that what I post will be interesting to the majority of you and that you come along on this ride with me.

I also hope you enjoy my blogs pun filled title. Since I am an Anishinaabe woman and my name “Shan” happened to fit perfectly within that word, you can understand the pure joy I felt when I discovered it.
Please enjoy, comment, share, explore & feel free to follow.

Take care ❤