Smudge Video

Smudge by artist Janet Rogers

Survivance, Isn’t a Word

is this inconvenience
or self-preservance
a kind of survivance
inviting us to press reset
quiet the mind, control fear
feel again in the season of spring
listen, as birds sing
us back into balance
don’t panic
in a time of controlled climate
chemtrails criss-cross
a perfectly empty April sky
and haven’t we all been
insulted enough
with injustice, ignorance
and human limitations to change
a cosmic time-out
a snow storm of silence
kinship through distance
we are dancing in our living rooms
blessing each other with gifts
and playlists
in our collective isolation
the air clears, cars disappear
I tell the birds, don’t worry
we’ll see you again
soon, won’t we

– Janet Rogers

“They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.”

– Tuscarora

Across Turtle Island, our communities prioritize protecting and valuing the sacred, our elders and what we send off to our future relations. In the face of a deadly global pandemic and under the constant threatening encroaching of industrial invasion with RCMP threats of violence on the land, Indigenous communities are continually putting the well being and safety of the whole over individual interests. Our strength, responsibility and honour hold what’s important, each other, together.

– Field Zapton, Mohawk, Indigenous Visual Culture, second-year student, OCAD University

About Us.

The Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge is a hub for facilitating the documentation, communication, and interpretation of Indigenous ways of seeing. Drawing on the inseparable concepts of perception and knowing, Wapatah assists Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and researchers to collaborate on the engagement with and representation of artistic knowledge. Wapatah highlights the innumerable lenses through which Indigenous people envision the world – whether through artistic production, language, or interaction with the land – using each of these as a research tool to form new questions and concepts about the world. Wapatah promotes Indigenous research and collaboration at multiple scales, through Indigenous-led projects at OCADU and the creation of connections and partnerships at a global level.

Research Foci.

Research at Wapatah activates Indigenous ways of seeing through four distinct themes.  Often interwoven, these areas speak to the artistic, political, cultural, and theoretical scope of Indigenous research.

Cultural Entanglement​

Wapatah researches the narratives and materials created at the intersection of cultures to understand how such interactions reflect, stimulate, and produce original artistic expressions. The Centre provides a collaborative space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, students, artists, and Knowledge keepers to exchange perspectives and knowledges about art produced in cultural contact zones.

Land/Human Relations

Wapatah acknowledges the relationships to the land and highlights connections between human and natural environments, seeking to understand how artistic production gives voice to these relationships. Indigenous artworks are always rooted in land and Wapatah’s research honours Indigenous ways of seeing and interacting with visual knowledge.

Digital Reclamation

Wapatah uses digital scholarship as a means to enact new opportunities for Indigenous research and impact, and enhance the presence of Indigenous knowledge on the global stage. The centre helps mobilize and preserve Indigenous visual knowledge by supporting online platform projects and digital initiatives that foster dialogues between global Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Globalized Indigeneity

Wapatah seeks out connections between Indigenous scholarship and artistic practice around the world, and fosters insightful partnerships to develop local and global approaches prioritizing visual knowledge. These connections are rooted in responsibility and respectful engagement with the environment and land ceremony and culture.

Kānawāpātahmōwin means the condition of seeing and perceiving, or visual knowledge in the Plains Cree language.

This logo, designed by Mariah Meawasige, embodies Wapatah as a multidimensional and boundless space for accessing the complex knowledge of many nations. Att once interconnected – forming a deep, interwoven network of knowing – and independent of one another. The logo takes inspiration from topography, star mapping, transmotion, and particularly the Kinomaage-Waapkong (teaching rocks) in Peterborough. The implied rhythm enacts an intertribal dance, not dissimilar to the one required to access those knowledges. Coupled with movement, the triad of symbols represent the many stories behind indigenous ways of knowing.


Wapatah has an extensive history of Indigenous-led research projects and outreach initiatives that critically explore the diverse methodologies and artistic representations of Indigenous knowledge from around the globe. 

Ranging from exhibit curation to symposia and publications, these projects seek to centralize Indigenous presence and perspectives in both academic research and community contexts.


Cree Code Talker Symposium 2016
+ 4
Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2018
+ 9
Entangled Gaze: Haida Gwaii 2019
+ 98


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