Celebrating Indigenous Artist Award and Community Arts Award Recipients

Today, October 27, we hosted our first in-person awards event since the pandemic began.

Today, October 27, we hosted our first in-person awards event since the pandemic began. Made possible by the generous support of our donors and following health and safety protocols, the event was attended by artists, arts workers, politicians, art patrons and community members, who came together to celebrate the finalists and recipients of our Community Arts Award and inaugural Indigenous Artist Award.
The awards ceremony was held at the Liberty Grand and attended by 151 people. For those who couldn’t join us, a live stream was made available.
"It is a wonderful day, and such a privilege to finally gather together again, celebrating Toronto's artists," said Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council. "The artists here are making an indelible mark on the cultural life of our city. I am honoured that we can play our part in recognizing their achievements."

The finalists and the recipient of the Indigenous Artist Award were announced by Naomi Johnson, Executive Director at imagineNATIVE and Joy Gooding, Board of Directors at K.M. Hunter Foundation. We’re pleased to announce that artist Greg Staats was named recipient of the inaugural Indigenous Artist Award. 

About Greg Staats
Skarù:reˀ/ Kanien’kehá:ka, Hodinöhsö:ni’. b. 1963,
Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
"[Greg's] work is complex - layered, and deeply and unapologetically embedded in traditional visual language and customary address," said one of the award panelists. Greg Staats is a Toronto based artist whose Hodinöhsö:ni restorative aesthetic employs mnemonics of condolence and performative burdens articulated in visual forms that hold body and place including: oral transmission, text works, embodied wampum, photographic, sculpture, installation and video. Staats' practice conceptualizes Land as monument embodied within a continuum of relational placemaking with his on-reserve lived experience, trauma and the explorations of ceremonial orality. "A prolific artist who has worked in non-traditional mediums for decades," said another award panelist.
Access Greg Staats' detailed bio here.
The award, developed in partnership and supported by K.M. Hunter Foundation, and after consultations with the Indigenous community, is a $20,000 prize that recognizes an Indigenous professional artist or artist collective working in traditional or contemporary practices. Finalists Cynthia Lickers-Sage and Joseph Sagaj were also celebrated.
As part of the award, a professional artist mentor/Elder or mentee/protégée designated by the award recipient will receive an additional $5,000. In addition to the cash prize the award recipient will also receive a week-long retreat in Caledon, thanks to Valleyview Artist Retreat.

For more information about the award and the adjudication process please visit here.
The finalists of the Community Artist Award were announced by Gary Switzer, CEO of MOD Developments, and the award was presented to Naty Tremblay.

About Naty Tremblay
“Naty offers a new operating norm in our sector. They challenge how structures have been arranged and adopted that often leave power imbalances unchecked and can exclude people from all the benefits of participating in the arts,” is how Naty’s work was described by their nominator. Naty Tremblay is a queer activist and community organizer, cyborg storyteller, arts educator-facilitator, artrepreneur, iconoclast and one-person band. They hail from a wee organic farm on Anishinabek three-fire confederacy & Haudenosaunee territory, Ontario. Creating socio-political mixed media and performative works as an independent artist and community collaborator, Naty weaves stories on the street and stages in Toronto Canada & internationally. Their creative pedagogy explores intersections of identity, passing, healing, social justice mobilizing, queer resistance, hybrid humanities, collaboration and artistic acts of decolonization and love.
Access Naty Tremblay's detailed bio here.

Sponsored by MOD Developments, our Community Artist Award is a $10,000 award that celebrates an artist who has made a significant contribution in Toronto by working with, in and for communities, while creating access and inclusion to arts and culture. The other two finalists Ruben Esguerra and Queen Kukoyi, are also awarded $1,000 each in recognition of their practice.

Join us in celebrating the recipients and the finalists of our Community Arts Award and inaugural Indigenous Artist Award.

For more information about our awards, our adjudication process, and to view awards that are currently open for nominations, visit our website here.


Toronto Arts Foundation and our supporters share a clear vision for Toronto – a vibrant and creative city where every neighbourhood is enriched by the transformative benefits of the arts. We hope our initiatives, research and awards inspire you to join us and make your own contribution towards our common vision.
Claire Hopkinson and Toronto Arts Foundation team

Click here to participate in our silent auction at our Mayor's Evening for the Arts 2021, open till November 15, 9 p.m. (EST).

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About Toronto Arts Foundation
Toronto Arts Foundation is a charitable organization that sparks creative connections, spotlights artistic excellence, and supports vibrant cultural growth throughout our diverse city through private-sector investment. To learn more or to make a donation, visit torontoartsfoundation.org.

Contact information
For more information about Toronto Arts Foundation please contact: Haroon Khalid, Associate Communications Manager, at haroon@torontoarts.org or 416 - 392 (6802) ext. 207.