Toonasa is a Wet’suwet’en and Dakelh artist based in Vancouver, BC. For her Emerging Artist Scholarship, Toonasa worked with mentor photographer Billie Jean Gabriel and created a portrait series of photographs titled Women: Walking Our Way.
Women: Walking Our Way, 2021
Digital scans, Kodak Portra 400(120 film) 8 " x 10"
Women: Walking Our Way (installation view), 2021
“My name is Toonasa (they/she), my parents are David Luggi and Julie Daum. I belong to the
birch bark house of Gilsehyu, Big Frog clan. My maternal grandparents were Irene Andrews
and Bill Daum. My paternal grandparents were Maryanne Luggi (Tom) and Peter Luggi. My
ancestry is Wet’suwet’en, Dakelh, and German. I grew up in Stellako, a Dakelh village on the
western side of Nadleh Bun (Fraser Lake). My Dakelh grandfather, Peter, is from this village and raised his children there as well. I currently reside on the unceded territories of
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Sel̓íl̓witulh peoples. In 2014, I graduated from Emily Carr
University of Art & Design with a BFA in Photography. I care deeply about community
empowerment, cultural revitalization, and bodily autonomy, expression, and liberation. My
photographic practice focuses on portraiture and documentation, with my subjects mainly being
people of colour and fellow queers.
How do we acknowledge and uphold our kin? Representation and recognition of powerful
Indigenous femmes and women is sorely lacking both inside and outside of Indigenous
communities. Adorned in both contemporary and traditional jewelry & regalia, enveloped in the
natural beauty of the Northwest Coast, they shine a light on hope and possibility in the present
and the future. My dream is that we hold our hands up to our kin and show them we hear, see,
and value their spirit, person, and work.
My intention for this project is to celebrate young women and femmes who have demonstrated
commitment and continued engagement in their respective communities and work. All five of
these incredible women and femmes have demonstrated courage, kindness, strength, and
purposefulness. Each femme and woman has admirably drawn upon ancestral wisdom through
their respectful relations while remaining high-spirited, confident, and bright. They resist
conforming to colonialism through the bold pursuit of their personal & collective goals and
dreams, for themselves, their ancestors, and future generations.
Their names, in alphabetical order, are: Jade George (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Sleil-watulh, Sts’ailes,
Hailzaqv, T’kemlups), Orene Askew (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), Raven John (Stó:lō, Coast Salish), Salia
Joseph (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Snuneymuxw), and Sierra Baker (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw,
Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, Łingít & Magyar).”