ArtsCan Circle
  • 585 Dundas Street East (3rd floor) Toronto, Ontario M5A 2B7
  • 905 836-9117

What Is #ArtsCanConnects?

In response to COVID-19, ArtsCan Circle artists will not be traveling to Pikangikum, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany (ON), Gjoa Haven (NU), Natuashish (NL), and Carcross (YT) to facilitate creative art workshops until further notice. We continue to believe that stories remain the most powerful medicine. We remain committed to continuing our relationships with the youth and our amazing teams of artists. The ArtsCan Circle Team

ArtsCan Circle is excited to announce #ArtsCanConnects, a platform dedicated to connecting and amplifying youth in northern communities with Artists across the country. We've always visited communities in person; now, we are focused on connecting online. We've reached out to communities, and we want to know what is keeping them inspired and connected, especially through creativity. We're looking for photos, poems, videos, a few spoken words about their day and what is going on in their communities. We're also creating online content and workshops to connect when we can't be there in person. Part of this initiative is growing our community of artists, and reach to provide more inspiration and amplification of the creativity of youth in Northern communities during these times.

Online Workshops

To watch all of our Workshop videos go to our Youtube Channel

Youth & Community

We would love to hear from you! Tell us what keeps you inspired and connected. Share with us a photo or video submissions. Whether that's you playing an instrument, singing a song, acting out your favourite scene of a movie, or showing us your latest artwork, we would love to see it! Let us know your name where you are from. You can Tag us ArtsCan Circle Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use the #ArtsCanConnects Is there a particular type of creative art workshop that you would like to see? Let us know, and we would love to hear from you. Please contact


How you can be involved #ArtsCanConnects was also created to connect and highlight artists sharing their talents, inspirations, and how they're spending their days through an online creative workshop. If you have content submissions, please get in touch (details below) or tag us #ArtsCanConnects If you are moved to share what we are doing, we appreciate it. Our intention with this program is to reach as many youths in northern communities as we can. ArtsCan Circle has been connecting with communities in person for 18 years. We are taking this step of continuing to connect online until it is safe for everyone to return in person. We are so grateful for your assistance and energy in helping us to continue to offer uplifting creative experiences to northern communities and beyond. If you are interested in facilitating an online #ArtsCanConnects creative art workshop and/or providing existing content to the youth, please contact

Our Artists

Mimi O’Bonsawin
Mimi O'Bonsawin is an award-winning, roots songstress. Although based in Toronto, you can find Mimi out on the road bringing songs and stories to diverse audiences all over this country and abroad. Her songs are heavily influenced by her Franco-Ontarian and Abenakis roots and flow through a centre of love and creativity. Her compositions are nurtured by the beauty of her home landscape, Northeastern Ontario and her performances honest and raw. With a recent award at the nationally recognized Indigenous Music Awards and songs placed in TV, Mimi is gaining momentum. Sandy Mowat, a CBC programmer has said: "Mimi may be the hardest working woman in the singer-songwriter biz!". In a time where you may feel like it has all been done before, Mimi is a rare find. She is one of a kind. When you meet her, you will know it. You can follow her journey at
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Cindy Paul
Northern Alberta songbird Cindy Paul is deeply connected to her Indigenous roots and it shines through in every breath and beat. An established songwriter, producer and visual artist. Cindy's original composition, He Can Fancy Dance is shared for educational purposes on the residential school system and for Indigenous cultural sensitivity and awareness in many conferences and workshops throughout North America and is currently the subject of an international documentary. Cindy has maintained her career working in the health & wellness field in northern Alberta as a nurse, natural health practitioner and educator, she has developed and facilitated visual & performing arts workshops which include song writing, metis cultural dance, music and art instruction. Cindy is an advocate for health & healing through natural therapies, traditional medicines, music, art, and cultural teachings incorporating her love for the arts and natural health into her work, her music and her life.
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Matthew Vukson
Matthew is a Tlicho Dene Bead Artist that specializes in the two-needle method and is the founder of @7thFireBeadingDesigns. He has always been around beading; the love of traditional culture and its rich legacy has been passed down to him through his mother and ancestors. Matthew likes to share stories that have been passed on to him from his family and he enjoys talking about his beading journey. He uses the healing power of art as a form of reclamation and reconciliation. The artistry, spirituality and empowerment of beading are his lifelong personal and research interests. He has taught beading workshops in the Art Gallery of Peterborough, House of Commons Vintage Store and the Gabriel Dumont Non-Profit Homes. Also, in Regina, SK, and Yellowknife, NT. Matthew is a Receipt of 2019 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Art Projects.
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Mike Stevens
Mike is an award-winning harmonica player, innovator, author, composer and keynote speaker. Mike’s love and passion is working with Indigenous and Inuit youth in northern communities in Canada and Alaska. He has visited over 70 northern communities over the years. Almost 20 years ago, Mike had a chance encounter with youth in northern Labrador that altered the course of his harmonica virtuoso professional path. It led to an epiphany of why he plays music in the first play. In 2002, Mike founded ArtsCan Circle. Mike has built strong and life-long relationships with many of the communities. Mike has toured with the Canadian Peacekeepers and performed for the troops around the world. He has recorded, toured and performed in concert venues like the Grand Ole Opry. Mike has been awarded:
  • The CMMA Slaight Music Humanitarian Award
  • The Meritorious Service Medal
  • Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • YMCA Canada Peace Medal
  • Honorary Kentucky Colonel
  • Estelle Klien Award, Award of Excellence
  • Peter Gzowski Award – PGI Canada National Literacy
  • Innovator of the Year – Canada Folk Music Awards
  • The Recording of the Year and the Entertainer of the Year – Central Canadian Bluegrass Award.
Ryan Ainsworth
For Canadian singer/songwriter Ryan Ainsworth, a continuous evolution describes the writing, recording and performing experience which has influenced his craft, now 15 years in the making. Ryan began his official music career in 1996 when he accepted the position of lead singer for ‘Bulbasket’ and shortly thereafter released a high intensity, self-titled debut album. The Newmarket, Ontario outfit, featuring a hard-driven energy provided a solid avenue for his early development and vocal styling. Originally a Haliburton native, he began singing as a youngster, and it was clear early on that music would be one of his passions in life. For the past 10 years, Ryan has called the Newmarket area his home where he currently lives with his wife in Mount Albert.
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Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie is touring constantly, and coming off her critically acclaimed, award-winning 2015 album Power in the Blood, nobody could ever accuse the Academy Award-winning songwriter of taking it easy. Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo. Sainte-Marie has spent her whole life creating, and her artistry, humanitarian efforts, and Indigenous leadership have made her a unique force in the music industry. In 1969, she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums; in 1982 she became the only Indigenous person to win an Oscar; she spent five years on Sesame Street where she became the first woman to breastfeed on national television. She’s been blacklisted and silenced. She’s written pop standards sung and recorded by the likes of Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Donovan, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. She penned “Universal Soldier,” the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century. She is an icon who keeps one foot firmly planted on either side of the North American border, in the unsurrendered territories that comprise Canada and the USA.
Susan Aglukark
Singer / songwriter Susan Aglukark is one of Canada’s most unique artists and a leading voice in Canadian music. She blends the Inuktitut and English languages with contemporary pop music arrangements to tell the stories of her people, the Inuit of Arctic Canada. The emotional depth and honesty of her lyrics; her pure, clear voice and themes of hope, spirit and encouragement have captivated and inspired listeners from all walks of life. Susan has held command performances for HRH Queen Elizabeth (twice), Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Brian Mulroney and the President of France, Jacques Chirac. She has performed for Nelson Mandela and Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson as well as several other dignitaries. Susan was invited into the Order of Canada and was presented her Officer of the Order of Canada award in September of 2005 for her contribution both musically and as a workshop facilitator and mentor in the aboriginal community and was awarded the Governor Generals Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award in June of 2016.
Leela Gilday
Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, Leela writes about the people and the land that created her. The power in her voice conveys the depth of her feelings of love and life in a rugged environment and vibrant culture as if it comes straight from that earth. Leela’s family is from Délįne on the shore of Great Bear Lake and her rich vocals dance across the rhythmic beats of traditional Dene drumming as smoothly as a bass line onstage the largest venues in the country. And she has played them all. Leela has toured festivals and concert halls with her four-piece band through every province and territory in Canada. She has played in the United States, Greenland, Denmark and New Zealand. If you’re from the North, Leela Gilday’s music is home. If you’ve never been, it will take you there. Leela’s fifth album will be released in Fall 2019. It has been five years since her last studio album, a time of healing. Leela released her album, North Star Calling in Fall 2019. The album is more raw, more intimate and more Leela than anything you’ve heard from her before.
Joseph Boyden

 Joseph Boyden, CM, is a novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and public speaker. His internationally bestselling work including Three Day Road, Through Black Spruce, The Orenda, and Wenjack has been published in 25 languages and won numerous awards such as the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Amazon First Novel Award, and France’s Prix Literaire du Monde. In 2012, Boyden received the Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Medal, for his contributions to Canadian art and culture, and in 2016 he was made a member of The Order of Canada. Awarded five honorary doctorates to date, Joseph also sits on the board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and helped create a charitable foundation named The Onakawana Education Fund, that helps bring Cree youth of James Bay out onto the land.

Jules Koostachin

Born in Moose Factory Ontario, Jules was raised by her Cree speaking grandparents in Moosonee, and also with her mother in Ottawa, a warrior of the Canadian Residential school system.  Jules is a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation, the Ancestral lands of the MoshKeKo InNiNeWak. She currently resides in Vancouver where she is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, her research focus is Indigenous documentary and she aims to defend in early 2020. In 2010, she completed her masters at Ryerson University in Documentary Media where she was awarded the Award of Distinction for her thesis work, as well as the Graduate Ryerson Gold Medal for highest academic achievement.  

While in graduate school, she produced her first feature documentary Remembering Inninimowin regarding her journey of remembering InNiMoWin (Cree).  

Her research MooNaHaTihKaaSiWew: Unearthing Spirit is focused on Indigenous documentary and our relationship to stories. 

Through Jules’ arts practice, she involves the use of film, photography, documentary, creative writing and installation. Her practice is deeply influenced by her Ancestral ties to the MoshKeKo. InNiNiNeWak teachings in the form of a story, is an integral way to ensure our Ancestors are respected and heard.  

Nelson Tagoona

Nelson Tagoona, a one-of-a-kind musician best known for his inspirational messages and his unique blend of vocal percussion and traditional Inuit throat singing called "throat boxing" a custom musical performance style that merges two techniques into one: beatboxing and throat singing. This unique performance has garnered Tagoona high praise throughout Canada, including being awarded at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and named one of the “Top 10 Canadian Artists under 20” by CBC Music. Tagoona performed during the opening of the Northern Scene Festival at the National Arts Centre, Pan Am Games, and at numerous other festivals and events Canada-wide.

Nelson Naittuq Tagoona began writing songs and performing when he was 15. “In a lot of my songs I’ve always talked a lot about believing in yourself, being courageous and not being afraid and having a lot of heart. No matter how dark your days have been, you’ll see that shining light once again.” Nelson Tagoona

As a member of the National Centre for the Arts’ Music Alive program, Tagoona is frequently invited to perform at public events and for youth. The Music Alive program sends teaching musicians to work with children and youth in northern communities, including Iqaluit, Igloolik, Rankin Inlet, Pangnirtung and Kugluktuk.

Fusing elements of traditional Inuit throat singing with live looping and standard beatboxing, Nunavut’s Nelson Tagoona has created a sound that honours his culture, embraces technology and resonates with audiences across the world.