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Tonya recalls an early interest in art, being raised by a painter and a cinematography artist. She is of Anishinaabe (Ojibwa), Russian and Irish ancestry. She spent the first five years of her life on the York University campus, in Toronto, Ontario surrounded by the Arts and visiting art/music festivals and galleries. The remainder of her youth was spent growing up among the Dene and Metis and Northern people of the Northwest Territories. This is where she was inspired to draw on her own visions of the people who have lived as one with the land for generations. She continues her artistic journey by exploring the themes of interconnectedness and the offerings of a self-sustaining society as she portrays the traditional Dene way of life on the land on canvas. By doing so she celebrates, preserves and hopefully protects this unique way of life. She factors in how light recreates itself, and transforms what it touches with its warmth over time or instantaneously. An undercurrent in her work that surfaces now and then is an inner conflict and contrasting views of the earth as a resource for human extraction vs. earth as a sacred being linked by intimate relationships with all of her living parts which are being jeopardized. It is her intention that through the viewing of these paintings emerges a sense of appreciation for and perhaps a call to action for a return to a simpler, dignified way of being that will serve as a tonic and healing process for all humanity; rekindle a balanced relationship with the earth, within ourselves and all creation. She chooses to immerse herself in the subject matter and is a part of the life that she reveals on canvas. Her methods are a painterly realistic style using acrylics on canvas, hide, and wood. She also produces drawings and collages in multi media, photography and integrates natural fibers into her work. Tonya has been very active in NWT arts community. She is the co-founder and served as president of the Open Sky Festival Society in Fort Simpson and also served as board member of the NWT Arts Council. She has attended various art shows and exhibitions throughout the Northwest Territories such as the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik. When she is not painting and/or working full time she can be found parenting, skiing or enjoying the northern arts and cultural scene.