FUTURES/forward Mentorships: Featuring Stephanie Babij
FUTURES/forward Mentee, Stephanie Babij — cohort #4, November 2021 to May 2022 — mentored by Rup Sidhu
As part of the triad model, Stephanie was placed as an artist-in-residence at Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), an Indigenous-led organization guided by a diverse group of Indigenous knowledge keepers, water protectors and land defenders from communities and regions across the country who believe that Indigenous Peoples’ rights and knowledge systems are critical to developing solutions to the climate crisis and achieving climate justice.
Community-engaged arts project co-created with ICA — a series of artmaking workshops designed to work through trauma and healing for staff and communities.
Stephanie Babij (she/her) is an urban-Indigenous visual artist of Ojibwe and mixed-settler heritage. Originally from Sudbury, Ontario, with maternal roots in Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation, she now makes her home in Unceded Algonquin Territory/Ottawa. Stephanie’s visual arts practice includes acrylic paintings, drawings, murals, and wood burnings crafted from fallen trees.
Her self-taught artistic expression reflects both her personal healing journey and cultural reclamation. Stephanie’s visual storytelling is guided by her dreams and awareness of her subconscious. Through her art, Stephanie blends her background in environmental science with her deep love of the natural world. In her work you’ll find elements of Indigenous teachings, animals, plants and the celebration of women’s bodies.
The pieces that Stephanie creates call people to honor their relationship with the land and welcome dialogues about climate justice and living ethically with creation.
As her career continues to unfold, Stephanie looks forward to supporting others to find their own healing through art and to creating large-scale community-engaged murals.
My mentorship with FUTURES/forward has been enlightening to say the least. FUTURES/forward gave me the chance to experience mentorship across the country, and to meet folks from many places across this land. I am grateful to have made a connection with my mentor, Rup Sidhu and to have learned valuable skills, tools, tips, and meaningful reflection from someone who’s been doing this work for a couple decades.
Throughout our time together, I wanted to work on my facilitation skills and learn how I can provide a safe space for learning, creating, and experiencing artistic expression with others. We translated these goals to a Zoom workshop where we focused on honing my skills. I partnered with a non-profit called Indigenous Climate Action, who are spearheaded by a group of talented Indigenous activists. Within ICA, there is a new program called Healing Justice which arose from the need to focus on healing for members within ICA who were constantly reaching their capacity with their work, feeling burnt out, and not having enough time to heal and readjust to bring forth their positive intentions and energy.
My Zoom workshop focused on providing a template for everyone to work from, while I discussed what healing looks like to me, and why I use art as a tool for healing on my own journey of cultural reclamation. After that workshop I encouraged participants to fill out a brief google form to judge my facilitation skills and provide any feedback that they may have on the workshop. This helped me sculpt my approach for future workshops, as well as understand what I can improve on.
One of the artistic creations to come out of my workshop was a collaborative compilation of each participant’s artwork to create a moving image for ICA to use for their Healing Justice program. I also offered a piece of my pre-existing art as a logo for Healing Justice.
FUTURES/forward provided experience collaborating artistically with environmental non-profit/NGO’s in a unique way. I am grateful that, throughout this mentorship, I have set and met my goals of facilitating art workshops, and through that breaking out of my comfort zone. This experience gave me firsthand insight into the world of facilitating, as well as the world of environmental non-profits. This mentorship leaves me with the feeling of motivation to fight the extreme lack of representation of diverse voices and experiences that is so prevalent in the environmental NGO/non-profit sector. Looking to the future, now more than ever, I implore others to be critical of environmental organizations that do not bring Indigenous, Black, and racialized voices and knowledge to the forefront of their fight for climate justice.
We wish to thank Indigenous Climate Action for this collaboration and hosting Stephanie’s amazing artist-in-residency! FUTURES/forward gratefully acknowledges that Stephanie’s mentorship thrived due in part to the generous support of the BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Judith Marcuse Projects.