Local arts educator wins inaugural award

TORONTO, ON – Lorrie Gallant is the recipient of the inaugural $7,500 Ontario Arts Foundation Artist Educator Award. The award is given annually to an Ontario resident who exemplifies excellence in arts education, demonstrates a unique approach to their arts education practice, creates meaningful learning experiences for young people, inspires connections to the arts beyond the classroom and continues to maintain and active arts practice.

Lorrie Gallant is a writer, illustrator, storyteller, and visual artist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is the author and illustrator of the children’s books, Bread and Cheese, Noi:a Noi:a, Border Crossing, and The Big Dig Adventure Series and is currently working on Little Lorrie and a Big Bowl of Corn Soup which is being illustrated in clay.

As the Education Program Coordinator of the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Lorrie uses her gifts to reveal the rich culture and traditions of the First Nations people through art-based educational workshops. Lorrie worked on a community arts project to produce children’s books on the History of Wahta and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territories and the book The Voice of Our Elders for the community of Six Nations. Lorrie has continued this Elders Project and now has assisted in the publishing of 6 more books and one compilation book of elders’ stories and images from Six Nations. Working with youth, Lorrie facilitated the creation of the book Voices of Our Athletes, based on the images and stories of First Nations Athletes

The relationship of youth and elder has been so important to Lorrie that she has continued her intergenerational arts projects to bring secondary school students and residential school survivors together to create two art exhibitions called “Walking Together.” Her goal in all that she does is to educate and to inspire people to preserve their culture and traditions and celebrate who they are in this contemporary world. Lorrie was selected as the winner from an outstanding group of nominees. This year’s jury consisted of Mehdi Hamdad, poet, spoken work artists (Ottawa), Serene Porter, photographer (Ohsweken), and Gzhe Hilary Wear, clown, physical theatre artist (Keene).

The jury was honoured to choose Lorrie as the inaugural laureate, stating “Lorrie is an artist who thoroughly embodies the ideals of Arts Education. Her use of contemporary art infused with traditional knowledge is transformative, and she creates artistic and cultural connections beyond the classroom for the learners. The Ontario Arts Foundation established and manages the endowment that funds the Artist Educator Award.

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) Awards Office administers the nomination and the selection process for the award. OAC juries nominate artists from the list of applicants to the current year’s OAC Artist in Education and Aboriginal Artist in School programs or other artists who are known to the juror.

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