Pass the Feather | About the Project 


Pass The Feather, title pageMission Statement

 In the name of reconciliation and cultural equality, Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada will protect endangered Aboriginal art forms and their makers, employ logistically and economically vulnerable artists and empower the next generation of artistic leaders. 

Purpose Statement

Through education and the arts, we are defiantly motivated to facilitate healing and reconciliation within our Aboriginal communities and create informed opinions of our culture in Canadian society as a whole.

As recognized by the federal government by request of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there is significant inter-generational trauma within our First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities because of the legacy of the residential school system and mass removal of children from their homes (coined ‘60’s Scoop’).

This trauma impedes our children's performance in formal educational settings, has instilled a deep fear of structured systems and has resulted in a response of resistance to authority figures and educators outside of their own community.

For decades, many of our communities and their children have been living in a cycle of failing health and economic issues. We recognize that this is not a permanent infirmity of our First Nations and commit ourselves to healing and empowerment.

Vision Statement

From within and outside of our communities, we will create the spaces, provide the resources and facilitate communal approaches to cultural knowledge in order to achieve a mutually respectful, co-operative and informed opinion of Aboriginal cultures in Canada.

  • Spaces and Resources • We believe that access to quality programming, appropriate spaces and art resources will facilitate experiential education and compliment formal educational institutes.

 We also feel in that making these spaces available to non-Aboriginal visitors, we are creating an educational environment that  speaks to inter-cultural respect and co-admiration.

  • Pedagogy • Place-based education employs the entire community and allows youth to be grounded in their own culture with hands-on, project-based learning. This facilitates a sense of ‘belonging’ that will accompany and liberate our children when integrating into non-Aboriginal culture.
  • Reconciliation • This organization is committed to the reparation of inter-generational trauma and the empowerment of our children. It is imperative that we teach them not only to be confident in their history and heritage but also to create co-operative and respectful interrelations with their Canadian neighbours.


Our Programs

“Pass The Feather” | Protecting Endangered Aboriginal Art Forms and Promoting the Creators

 This program establishes a direct connection from FNMI artists to venues; disabling logistics and finances as barriers. We connect and re-connect Aboriginal Peoples to endangered traditional and contemporary art forms.

The project preserves Aboriginal art and empowers artists in the following ways:

  • Increased economic stability through employment
  • Increased physical activity
  • Access to art supplies
  • Access to instructors/mentors/elders
  • Publicity opportunity
  • Marketing opportunity
  • Exhibition and sale venues in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal settings

Within the first three months of existence, our organization accomplished:

Employment: Over a dozen on-reserve artists and craftspeople were employed.

Cultural Integration: Their art was sold in a predominantly non-Aboriginal setting.

Networking: Some artists were present for the sale of their artwork.

Cultural Education: Each hand made article was accompanied by a cultural explanation of its use or history.

Publicity: Artist biography with contact information was attached to each article sold.

Income: Funds raised were returned to the AACC programs.

Venue: 19 artists have registered and have published their work on our website.

Opportunity: Marginalized youth from an alternative school learned about and created traditional Aboriginal art for our organization.


“Pass The Feather To Me!” | A Classroom Art Exchange Program

is creating exciting friendships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth, teachers and artists using visual culture to transcend logistic and financial barriers. We are creating co-operative and respectful interrelations for future generations.

ennui, Pass The FeatherWhile initiating creativity and re-visiting traditional Aboriginal teachings, the program aims to:

  • Create friendships that exceed logistic and financial barriers.
  • Encourage healing and mitigate inter-generational trauma.
  • Create equality amongst Canada’s youth.
  • Develop informed opinions on matters relating to the culture of Aboriginal peoples and cultures.
  • Employ Aboriginal artists
  • Include Aboriginal Elders
  • Develop artistic skills
  • Develop letter writing skills
  • Show respect and reciprocation to our Elders and their teachings.

Ennui is unacceptable.

Art is our most powerful tool of expression in Aboriginal culture. Through visual culture Indigenous students, teachers and artists are more willing to reach out and re-conciliate with their non-Aboriginal peers and associates. It is empowering and important to the co-operative future of our nation.

• Program Description •

  • On reserve students in grades 5-8 are matched with their peers in a predominantly non-Aboriginal, multi-cultural, public school classroom.
  • They write autobiographical letters of introduction and mail them to their peers.
  • Students are presented a lesson plan based on Aboriginal culture.
  • Students create an art collaboration based on the subject matter and mail it to their peers.
  • Their peers receive the same lesson plan. Unpack the art collaboration and discuss.
  • Their peers create their own art project based on what they’ve learned about Aboriginal culture and mail it to their new friends on reserve.
  • Depending on educators, they may choose to continue with a Pen Pal program for keen students.

Within the first three months of existence, our Classroom Art & Knowledge Exchange has accomplished:

  • Inter-cultural Friendship: over 130 students have exchanged introductory / biographical letters.
  • Registration: Over 20 educators have registered, 6 have been accepted (due to finances).
  • Global Recognition: Inquiries have been received from Maori and Mayan communities.
  • Art & Cultural Education: Art activity has been presented (rattle making) to students with cultural teaching.
  • Integration: Non-Aboriginal educators have transparent lesson plans to present to their students.
  • Employed Aboriginal Artists
  • Provided Art Supplies to remote First Nations classroom
  • Aboriginal Education: Aboriginal educators and students have been brought closer to traditional teachings through lesson plans, subject matter and artist visit.


Program Response •

 registration, Pass The Feather

registration, Pass The Feather


Who are we?

We are the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada. We are a brand new, incorporated non-profit.

OUR MANDATE: We are for the advancement of Aboriginal arts, culture and community.

Your AACC Directors are Dawn Setford, Beverly Anger-Nelson and Jocelyn Coté.

Volunteers: Rachel Sandy

Our western liasón is Charrine Naziel-Lace


pass the feather, artist,

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!

The establishment and development of the AACC is a full time commitment for Dawn. It is dedicated to her little brother Adam who once gave her a feather and told her to fly far above the storm. He said it was an Eagle feather, but it was a seagull feather.  Adam died too young.

dawn setford, feather keeper, feather bundles, smuudge bundles, pass the feather, photographer


Beverly Anger-Nelson, board of directors, pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of canadaBeverly Anger-Nelson is a Métis/Onandaga artisan who has been learning and making traditional crafts for 20 years and more. A long time resident of the National Capital Region Beverly has facilitated a variety of workshops for students with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board as part of the required Aboriginal curriculum component.

Beverly is currently one of two teachers at Zelikovitz Leathers in Ottawa and has facilitated workshops for all ages making moccasins, mittens drums, beadwork - loomed and free hand, rattles, spirit dolls, medicine bags, and dream catchers. Beverly has worked with Ottawa School Boards, federal government departments, Wintergreen Studios, Minwaasin Lodge, in her home and with 'Pass The Feather' at the Ottawa School of Art. Notably she also facilitated the workshop for the making of the drums used in the Aboriginal King Lear production at the National Arts Centre.

Originally from Dunnville, Ontario. Beverly comes from a long line of hunters, trappers and fishermen and has been making and creating native crafts and native themed art all of her life. She loves woodworking, gardening and is open to learning new skills and receiving teachings from Elders and others in the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

Beverly Anger-Nelson, board of directors, pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of canada


Jocelyn Coté, board of directors, pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of canadaJocelyn Coté

Jocelyne Côté is Métis/Mi’kmaq from the Gaspé Peninsula on her mother’s side and from Acadia on her father’s side. Originally from Longueil, Quebec, Jocelyne comes from a lineage of fishermen, hunters, trappers, singers, artists, and medicine women and men. During her college years in Quebec City, Jocelyne organised several groups of students volunteering their time working with physically and mentally challenged children, adults and the aged.

Jocelyne is an innovative bilingual leader with a capacity to execute and deliver under pressure. Throughout her career, her organizational and managerial skills as well as a great ability to easily adapt to any and all situations stem from past experiences and expertise acquired in high technology, cinema and film production and post-production. Jocelyne’s proven tenacity and ability to carry through from initial strategy to market resulted in her inventing, developing, creating “dubStudio”, a ground breaking technology that allowed her to win the 2003 “Octas Award for Technological Innovation”. Jocelyne’s desire for excellence, her passion as well as her understanding and respect for others have, over the years, contributed to the development of strong relationships with co-workers, employees and clients such as the NFB (National Film Board), the CBC, the BBC (London), Gaumont (France), Antenne 2 (France), RAI (Italie), Disney, Discovery Channel, History Channel, Golden Harvest (Hong Kong), First Choice, Family Channel, British Family Channel, Dic Los Angeles, Saban International, Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, Nickleodeon, ABC, CBS, NBC…

Jocelyne grew up in a family of artists and has been surrounded by music, singing, and crafts all her life. She started at sewing, drawing, painting, sculpting (wood, soap stone and clay) at a very young age.








Charrine Naziel-Lace, board of directors, pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of canadaCharrine Naziel-Lace is a Northwest Coast Indian Arts and Crafts Professional, carver,  and illustrator and the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada is excited to welcome her as  our west coast liasón.

A member of the Moricetown First Nation in the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, Charrine has 20 years of experience in the First Nations Art Industry. A graduate of the Ksan Carving School, BC and Gitanmaax (Kitanmax) School of Northwest Coast Indian Art, Charrine has built on old art traditions while studying in the styles and techniques of master carvers and artists. She is also a graduate of Cowansville Vocational Education Training Centre, Cowansville, QC where she became proficient in design and layout.

Works to her credit include the design of the Moricetown First Nations Flag and illustrations for the Wet’suwet’en Children’s First Language book series, which included “The Pink and Sockeye Salmon”, a story about bullying.

She is passionate about working in the Northwest Coast Indian style and is very excited to promote west coast art with our 'Pass the Feather' programs.

Charrine Naziel-Lace, board of directors, pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of canada

 Welcome to the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada | Pass The Feather!

The administrators of 'Pass The Feather' are currently seeking funding for the Classroom Art Exchange Program. If you can help financially, please click here. If you know someone who may be interested in participating or donating to the project, please pass along these links:

Find us on FACEBOOK

Find us on TWITTER

View our community support videos and introductory Classroom Art Exchange Video on YouTube.