[Skip to Content]
Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
Grants Advanced Search
Grants Advanced Search


Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058

Nadya Kwandibens honoured with 2018 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award

June 21, 2018

Photographer Nadya Kwandibens is the recipient of the 2018 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award. This award, created in 2012, celebrates the work of Indigenous artists and arts leaders who have made significant contributions to the arts in Ontario.

Nadya will receive this $10,000 award on Sunday, June 24, during the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York (250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto). The award presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m., just before a free concert by Juno Award–winning music duo Digging Roots.

About Nadya Kwandibens

Nadya Kwandibens
Nadya Kwandibens
Photo: Sweetmoon Photography
  • Nadya is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. She is a self-taught photographer with both artistic and commercial practices.
  • Her photography company, Red Works Photography, aims to empower contemporary Indigenous lifestyles and cultures through photographic essays, features and portraits.
  • Her artistic practice centres on three ongoing bodies of work: Concrete Indians Red Works Outtakes and emergence. She is currently developing a multimedia series, The Kitchen Table Talks, which will explore diverse perspectives on matrilineal leadership and nationhood. She has also published a photo book called Idle No More.
  • Nadya’s photography has been exhibited in group and solo shows across Canada and the United States. She is also a member of the Indigenous Laws and The Arts Collective, which paired artists and legal thinkers for Testify – a travelling multimedia exhibition exploring Indigenous law through the arts.
  • Nadya delivers empowering photography workshops and presentations for youth, universities and community groups.


Nadya is an intrepid, ground-breaking and influential artist,” said the jury members, who were unanimous in their choice. “She has brought an Indigenous voice to portrait photography that recontextualizes images and shows us our true selves.” They also praised Nadya’s dedication and commitment, noting her reliable presence “in every community and at every event.”

Nadya’s exceptional work highlights the power of photography as a storytelling medium,” said Peter Caldwell, Director & CEO, Ontario Arts Council. “She is widely respected for her reflective, empowering portraiture, as well as her visionary approach to representation. My sincere congratulations to Nadya on her achievements and this award.”

The OAC Indigenous Arts Award also honours emerging leadership: each year, the award recipient is invited to nominate a rising Indigenous artist or arts professional to receive a $2,500 prize. Nadya has selected photographer Melissa General as this year’s emerging laureate.

About Melissa General

Melissa General
Melissa General
  • Melissa is Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and she currently lives in Toronto.
  • A multidisciplinary artist, Melissa works in photography, audio, video and installation. Her practice is focused on her home territory of Six Nations and the concepts of memory, language and land.
  • Melissa’s work has been exhibited in galleries and shows in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec. She is also a contributor to the national billboard project Resilience, curated by Lee-Ann Martin.
  • Melissa is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) with a major in photography, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from York University.

About the award


For further information

Shoshana Wasser
Communications Coordinator
416-969-7434 | toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434