Mohawk Feather Keeper, graphic and web designer, photographer and paper maker.
onkwehonwe | haudenosaunee | kanien’kehá ka | wakhskare:wake
she keeps the feathers
Dawn Setford (Mary Francis Whiteman) Iehstóselanon:ha is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), Wakhskare:wake (Bear Clan) and a Feather Keeper whose familial territory is St.Regis/Akwesasne. Her family was one of several Akwesasne families that settled on the banks of Moira Lake, Madoc, Ontario.
Dawn Mary Francis, is the founder and president of the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada (a Canada Not-for-profit Corporation) and owner at Pass The Feather. Dawn has dedicated herself full time to protecting endangered Indigenous art forms and their makers and works to empower the next generations of traditional Indigenous artists.
Dawn is a community-engaged visual and media artist who advocates for equality and facilitates the creation of informed opinions of Indigenous cultures. Dawn’s background in the arts, business marketing and management is combined with her creativity to bring customers the very best representation.
Dawn is the organizer of the Indigenous Women’s Arts and Entrepreneurship Conference. This event is held at Willis College in the St. Laurent Shopping Centre, Ottawa and offers free traditional Indigenous arts workshops to hundreds of Indigenous women. The conference also boasts a diverse vendor membership; dozens of artists sell their products in the shopping centre during the IAC.
Dawn dedicated many years of volunteer work for the Sixties Scoop Network / National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network committee as the creator of their logo and graphic designs for social media, print and web. Other web and graphic design work includes Century 21 Central America (1999), All Image Promotions (1994-1998), Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (Walking In Her Moccasins), Millside Ceramics, the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team and 15 years serving the veterinary industry.
Dawn is a member of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Educators Association of Ontario, she is part of an advisory group and is collaborating with the roundtable for the Indigenous Arts Economic Study by AANDC, a regular contributor to Aboriginal Women’s Economic Quarterly Indigenous, Spirit Magazine (Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada) and works retail spaces and the powwow trail to market, educate and promote the hand made works of fine Indigenous artisans.
Dawn attended Niagara College, Brock University, George Eastman House (analog photography) and Dundas Valley School of Art. Major – visual arts, Minor – Aboriginal Studies.
Dawn spent 3 years living in Central America studying Indigenous cultures, their language and arts.
Dawn is a Feather-Keeper and artist. Her extensive collection of feathers is utilized in workshops where participants create talking feather bundles, personal smudge feathers and regalia fans.
Dawn is an Indigenous adoptee and infuses her workshops with important perspectives regarding intergenerational trauma and the 60’s scoop – a program aimed at removing young children from their communities and placing them in non-Indigenous homes. She explores sharing circle customs, bird medicine and intergenerational trauma in each workshop.
Dawn’s workshops are held in safe spaces within public and private school systems, summer camps, workplaces, community groups, federal buildings and on-reserve educational facilities.
Clients include private and public school boards across Ontario, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa School of Art, Residential School Survivors Adjudication Secretariat, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Correctional Service of Canada among others.
Dawn spearheads a program that helps Ontario hunters recycle the wings and tails of their harvest and works closely with wildlife rehabilitation centres, zoos and aviaries. 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 workshops to teach equality, indigenous bird medicines, sharing circles and restorative justice practices.
For more information on our feather recycling program, click here FEATHERS FOR KIDS!
Please go to Dawn’s web page at PASSTHEFEATHER.CA
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.
Web and Graphic Design