Thinking Rock Blog

This is where we share updates about the projects we are working on across the Algoma District.  Be sure to check back frequently for emerging news and photos!

Statement of Solidarity in Support of the Wet’suwet’en people

Posted by on March 6, 2020 in Blogs | 0 comments

Solidarity Statement from Thinking Rock Community Arts
in Support of the Wet’suwet’en people

March 2, 2020

As a Settler-led organization that is governed by a Board of Directors that includes 50% Indigenous membership, whose founding purpose is to use the arts to bring Indigenous and Settler communities throughout Algoma on a journey to better relations, Thinking Rock Community Arts stands in unwavering solidarity with local Indigenous land protectors and joins them in their support of the people and the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation.

The long-term struggle of the Wet´suwet´en is a legitimate, legally-sanctioned struggle for rights, autonomy and sovereignty on their unceded territories. We agree with and support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ governance systems and their inherent right to govern their territory. The Wet’suwe’ten have not given free, prior and informed consent to the construction of a pipeline through their lands.

We support initiatives by Indigenous People across Turtle Island to resist resource extraction and energy projects that disrupt their Indigenous food and governance systems and interfere with the health of their lands, territories, and communities. We stand for Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization and the transition to a just economy and energy sector that honours and respects the rights of Indigenous peoples and prioritizes and protects the lands and waters. We support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and urge the Canadian government to implement the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

As a community-based non-profit organization and as individual community members, we are doing what we can to put these words and sentiments into action by actively supporting local actions including those in Baawating and Mississauga First Nation. We encourage our supporters, partners and followers to do the same. In doing so, we can collectively help curb the unacceptable persistence and recent rise of anti-Indigenous racism locally and across the country.

The Thinking Rock family shares a desire to explore how we can create spaces for dialogue and mutual understanding through multidisciplinary, multi-generational, cross-cultural community-engaged art projects. Our work takes place in the context of rural Northern Ontario, in the land now known as Canada, where racism toward Indigenous people is deeply ingrained across systems and society. In our artful and collaborative ways, we surface and celebrate each other’s stories and truths, creating bridges of understanding across differences, and work together to find better ways forward.

We express deep gratitude for the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island who have been caring for the lands and waters for countless generations. These efforts benefit current and future generations of all those who call these lands their homes, and for that, we send our warmest thanks.

In love and solidarity,

The Thinking Rock Family:
Founding Artistic Director Robin Sutherland; Artistic Director Miranda Bouchard; Thinking Rock Board Members Jon Cada, Jessica Bolduc, Crystal Bossio, Katie Huckson, Jae Mahmutova, Laura Mayer, Krista McCracken and Kimberly Pelletier

A Summer Full of Community Outreach!

Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Blogs | 0 comments

Reflections on a Season’s Worth of Social Fabric
by Áine Schryer-O’Gorman


At the end of June, I joined the Thinking Rock team as Programming and Outreach Assistant. We quickly started our summer of outreach with a day in Sault Ste. Marie at the yarn shop/café Shabby Motley for the opening of Tour de Fleece, a month-long fibre spinning event. Along with welcoming people to use our embroidery supplies, fill out our Social Fabric prompt cards, and participate in various other activities, we connected with community members about the Social Fabric project. Our highlight of the day was chatting with visitors about the importance of textile arts (specifically knitting and crocheting) in community, and how gathering together and creating textile art/garments helps build a welcoming, inclusive community. A few weeks later, Miranda – Thinking Rock’s Acting Artistic Director – went back to Shabby Motley for the closing of Tour de Fleece.

At the beginning of July, we had the pleasure of facilitating an artmaking session at the Explorer Summer Day Camp, run by Kensington Conservancy (KC) and the St. Joseph Island Hunters and Anglers Association (SJHAA). Over a few hours a group of twelve campers, aged 8 to 12, took part in a collaborative poetry activity and the creation of a felt landscape portrait. Through these activities we encouraged the kids to think creatively about their communities and the land that they live on. The venue on St. Joseph Island was beautiful, the kids were enthusiastic, and we were very thankful to partner with KC and SJHAA.

At the end of July, we facilitated a Block Printing drop-in workshop at 180 Projects in Sault Ste. Marie, where participants were encouraged to create a plate and print on paper and fabric, inspired by the Benjamin Chee Chee exhibitition, Life and Legacy, organized and circulated by the Temiskaming Art Gallery. Open to all community members, we ended up having a turnout of just under 10 participants. The day was calm and inspiring, with some wonderful results from the participants.

At the beginning of August, we hosted a booth at Thessalon Community Day and Little Rapids Fair. Both days were filled with summery weather and lots of talking with community members about the work that Thinking Rock does and Social Fabric, our current multi-year project. We brought our Social Fabric prompt cards, quilt block design activity, and a few other activities along with us and encouraged passers-by to think about community and get creative for a minute or two. At the end of the summer, we also hosted a booth for two days at the Bruce Mines Fair, where we encouraged community members to think about what it means to live in Algoma in the fall.

From August 11th to 17th, we were stationed at the 16th Annual Algoma Traditional Music, Dance, and Heritage Arts Family Camp. Every day, we hosted thoughtful artmaking of different types at our tent, which was very central to the site and got lots of people passing by to drop in for a few minutes. Artists Mary Schneider and Miranda Bouchard led a natural dyeing workshop, a fun experimental experience for participants, as part of AlgomaTrad’s Community Colours project. All week at Thinking Rock’s Social Fabric artmaking tent, participants of all ages dropped in and made collaboratively painted fabric, woven landscape portraits, drawings, felt landscapes, story illustrations, and “thoughtful rocks”. We also had Ruth Howard and Shifra Cooper, friends from Jumblies Theatre, join us for making and singing games.

Our part in the camp wrapped up with a beautiful little exhibition in “Cabin F” (with Shifra Cooper, Ruth Howard and co.) of artistic works created throughout the week, and stories, memories, thoughts, and images about AlgomaTrad that we collected throughout the week. Shifra’s children’s class sang songs, shared stories, and demonstrated puppet-dancing for a very attentive audience of campers as a part of the final display. We had a memorable, wonderful, and very busy week in artistic residence and collaboration at AlgomaTrad.

Thank you to all who supported our summertime activities as participants, audience members, makers, learners, donors of materials, facilitators, mentors, collaborators, and funders. We are already looking forward to next year!

YSI Algoma – Let’s Tend the Fire Gathering

Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

Moving Forward, Stronger and Brighter

By: Jon Cada

The YSI Algoma Nest hosted a gathering at Searchmont Resort in August, featuring a mixture of young community change-makers, adult allies and decision makers to develop meaningful conversations and relationships around several key challenges and barriers that young people face in Northern Ontario communities.

The gathering used the theme ‘Let’s Tend the Fire’ to focus on how the YSI Algoma community can continue learning about the values of shared leadership, facilitation and promoting the value of conversations so that young people feel empowered to host community conversations and develop action items from them. This theme followed last year’s YSI Algoma gathering, ‘Let’s build a Fire’ which brought young people from across the Algoma District together for the first time to discover where their hearts are for their community and how they can develop the skills they need and feel empowered to share them with others.

Meeting to share reflections and thoughts

Photo Credit – Jessica Bolduc

Since last year’s gathering, young people have benefited from the development of the YSI Algoma Nest by having a chance to share their reflections, share updates in their work and exchange ideas with each other while helping develop a community of support in the process.

Networking, another key development that has taken place in the Algoma Nest, gives young people a new outlet and confidence to ask questions and get feedback from different members and supporters so that they can push their ideas forward.

YSI meeting on the last day to talk next steps

Photo Credit – Jessica Bolduc

Some takeaways to share from this year’s gathering include a small group of young people wanting to utilize new tools, knowledge and communication strategies to build a community of people that can better support an emerging music scene in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding areas. Individuals from Manitoulin Island and Thunder Bay, ON also attended and feel supported by the YSI Algoma Nest to begin bringing together key people in their communities so that conversations can be had around building a community of support and shared leadership in their respective regions.

YSI HeARTful harvest skit

Photo Credit – Jessica Bolduc

40 people attended the weekend event including individuals from Toronto who also count themselves as members of the provincial YSI community. Individuals from Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Goulais River, Batchewana First Nation, Echo Bay, Desbarats, Mississaugi First Nation, Serpent River First Nation and Manitoulin Island also represented their communities. Representatives from the Sault Ste. Marie Arts Council, Sault Ste. Marie Indigenous Friendship Centre and local federal party candidates also attended to learn about this exciting work. 

Funding and support for YSI Algoma’s ‘Let’s Tend the Fire’ gathering comes from the Laidlaw Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Social Entrepreneurship Evolution, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Thinking Rock Community Arts and the YSI community outside of Algoma.

Also, a shout-out goes to Gore Street Cafe, Cafe Naturathe Downtown Association and Mississaugi First Nation for providing space to meet, plan and coordinate the logistics of this gathering.

Gathering hosting team planning

Photo Credit – Jessica Bolduc

More about the YSI Algoma Nest:

The YSI Algoma Nest first started as a conversation in 2013, that included young people within Sault Ste. Marie and neighbouring areas to talk about how they can learn from one another and develop positive working relationships and collectively learn about the process of being in community with one another from across different backgrounds, fields of work and areas of interest. The provincial YSI initiative conversations originated out of Toronto in 2009 and includes individuals from across Ontario in on-going conversations to continue learning about what’s needed for young people to feel supported and empowered to create healthy changes in their community.

For more info about the YSI and how to get involved in this work, visit: www.ysicollaborative.org/ or find news about the YSI on facebook.