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Dawn Setford | Photography and Paper Arts

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Dawn Setford is a feather keeper, photographer and paper maker.

Dawn Setford is Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) whose matrilineal ancestral territory is Akwesasne. She is a community-engaged visual and media artist who encourages FNMI artists to create and express themselves in an effort to promote economic opportunity and inter-generational healing. The majority of her work is community-engaged and explores the history and tradition of her culture.

Dawn has attended Niagara College and Brock University to study developmental psychology, visual arts and Aboriginal studies. She was a darkroom photography student of the George Eastman House in Rochester, a student of the Dundas School of Art and spent years in Central America studying language and indigenous art forms.

Dawn spent her youth working with developmentally disabled individuals in Niagara and British Columbia. For over 20 years, Dawn has worked in business management, marketing, graphic design and photography. After a successful graphic design business she managed her partner’s veterinary clinic for 15 years. 

Dawn works with the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team (a team of veterinary professionals dedicated to canine population control in Ontario’s First Nations communities) on site and with fundraising, marketing and web design/maintenance. She also volunteers for the Indigenous Adoptee committee of Ottawa and is a member of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Educators Association of Ontario. She is a regular contributor to Aboriginal Women’s Economic Quarterly.

Dawn facilitates art workshops in both our public school system and federal on-reserve educational facilities. Dawn is working with the Ottawa School of Art, University of Ottawa, Kumik Elder’s Lodge.

Dawn is an adoptee and has spent 25 years trying to find her way home. She is a student of Mohawk Elder Sakoieta Widdrick and has recently completed Reconciliation through Indigenous Education, a certificate program offered by the University of British Columbia.

Dawn is a Feather-Keeper and artist. She spearheads a program that helps Ontario hunters recycle their wings and tails. Her husband Derek drives all of Eastern and Southern Ontario picking up the birds and Dawn cleans them at home. The feathers are then used in our Classroom Art & Knowledge Exchange workshops and to create feather bundles which are used in fundraising efforts.

For more information on our feather recycling program, click here FEATHERS FOR KIDS!

For more information about Dawn and to see her work, please visit www.iamdawn.ca. To see her paper and a Mohawk to English translation of a Thanksgiving Address, click here www.iamdawn.me

Feather Work

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Hand Made Paper Art

My most recent art work involves historic processes of photo development, namely those that use the light of the sun for exposure. These photos are printed on my handmade paper.

The fibre for the paper is grown or collected on my property and is processed by hand with collected rainwater. It is cooked outdoors on an open fire. The fibre consists of sacred plant matters like corn, tobacco, sweet grasses, fallen trees and their limbs and other bast fibres that are traditionally used by Indian nations in ceremony, medicine and survival.

The use of these fibres is an essential ingredient to spiritual expression and acts as a crucial reminder of the versatility, vulnerability and endangerment of nature, Indian culture and the human spirit.

Analog Photography


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