My name is Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) I am a Wolastoqiyik Indigenous multidisciplinary artist from Tobique First Nation. Much of the teachings carry along the Wolastoq waters and it lead me into art community in Fredericton-where my arts practice is currently based and a place I call home also.
I have always had a creative spirit-I remember being young and always being captured by the surroundings and people in my community. I would find stories in the forests and waters-some would say I was child full of imagination and was always expressing myself through spoken word, song and dance.
I began my visual arts practice in early 2000 when I enrolled at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design where I met Sagatay (Gwen Bear)-She became a very influential person in my life and through her guidance I began learning about traditional ceremonies, teachings, language and medicines. The teachings inspired but also gave a larger understanding of who I am and I began expressing that through painting.
When I paint the Wolastoqiyik motifs naturally became part of my stories, this symbolic movement in my artwork is what I call “dancing the four directions” which represents emotions, dance, of spirit and of song through Wabanaki roots. My painted stories kept me close my Indigenous ways of being, constantly teaching me and in constant curiosity. I realized early in my painting career that I was not painting just for me but I was painting for my people-I was painting for my ancestors.
Today, I stand in the Wolastoq waters I am witnessing our language being lost, our lands hurting and our water is crying. I feel our stories need to be heard louder than a painting can speak. I began my path to open my spirit to learn courage to share my songs, strength within my voice and within my words for me to continue to share stories expressed with Indigenous heart on stage for the world to see.