Featured on this issue’s cover is the brilliant photography of Cree artist and self-proclaimed “photowalker” Teena Legris. In celebration of the summer solstice, this image represents a time of celebration and a reminder to honour our ancestors, bringing hope for a return to the people and activities we are all missing dearly during these uncertain times.
Legris describes the cover photo as “transformational, in that it is energetic and speaks to connection, fluidity and freedom. Like a butterfly.”
“It’s an honour to watch dancers at powwows,” said Legris. “I observe as someone so in awe of the strength, dignity and beauty of each dancer. But it’s also a beating of my blood, calling me to reclaim part of me that has never left my being during this lifetime. Every time I hear those drums, I feel the vibrations of the singers, the jangling of the brilliantly adorned jingle dresses, and the hops from the young children who courageously feel their power. It gets me every time. No matter which nation we come from, it feels like we’re honouring our lives together.”
Legris has always loved capturing a moment in time, ever since her early years of pouring over her grandparents’ National Geographic magazines, admiring the people, colours, majesty, pain and strength she saw. Their lives were real and so different from hers—she was fascinated.
“Finding that moment in a photograph is like watching a movie, having an innate sense that a certain angle would emphasize an emotion, the direction of light would be stunning for contrast or line, and that smile,” Legris explained. “That move, that motion just works, and mirroring my images is like the perfect flip and fun edit to a photo. It makes an entirely different experience with seeing the image—its colours and how movement affects the feeling, being drawn to textures, and discovering a new image that comes out of such a blend.”
A proud member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Legris lived and worked in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 19 years, where she owned and operated an eco-chic maternity boutique in the Kitsilano neighbourhood called Ni’mama. The boutique celebrated the sacredness of motherhood, Mother Earth and her own Woodland Cree heritage.[signinlocker id=”6837″]
While living in Vancouver, her Instagram was called Vancity Reflections because her photos were taken while reflecting on her life. “It was around the time I got divorced, when I had to navigate my scheduled days to myself with activities that would have me experience something visceral to take my mind through this change,” said Legris. “It’s almost like taking these photos were a visual diary of my own transformation.” Legris moved to Winnipeg with her two children in 2017.
In addition to her passion for photography, Legris has pursued opportunities to further her dedication to support the health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, she has worked in the communications industry with various Manitoba health entities, most notably with Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM)—a self-governing First Nations health organization.
This summer she celebrates another transformation as she transitions into her role as senior communications advisor with Indigenous Services Canada, and continues her partnerships with health organizations that advocate for equitable healthcare and health transformation for First Nations.
For more visual inspiration, visit Legris’ Instagram page: @on_my_walk_today.