Future 40 leaders put their passion into Manitoba’s cultural landscape

Manitoba’s thriving cultural scene has been established by people driven to create not only their own art and recreation opportunities, but to build a community of creators.

This cohort of CBC Manitoba Future 40 finalists is adding to the landscape of our province with their work on what many people see as extras — art, music, cultural history, recreation — but are the things that make so many of our lives worth living.

Jaimie Isaac is an artist and a Winnipeg Art Gallery curator. (Jocelyn Piirainen)

Jaimie Isaac

You might not have heard Jaimie Isaac’s name, but even if you aren’t an art fan and gallery-goer, you may have been touched by her work just by going for a walk at The Forks.

Isaac is a Winnipeg Art Gallery curator who has worked on shows such as Insurgence/Resurgence and the BoarderX travelling exhibit, and an artist who created the sculpture Niimamaa at The Forks with KC Adams and Val Vint.

She’s a co-founder of the Ephemerals Collective, which was twice nominated for the prestigious Sobey Art Award, and has exhibited in many Manitoban and national exhibitions and film festivals.

She’s also an activist and youth advocate whose professional life, artistic life and causes are inextricably intertwined.

“I think [art] is a significant expression of thought and knowledge and experience and it, I think, opens up a platform for new ways of interpreting and experiencing our world that we live in,” she said.

“It’s also an outlet to express important social, cultural, environmental, political aspects that feels a little bit maybe more palatable when interpreting it or experiencing it through art.”

Isaac has several projects on the go, but the one she mentions most often isn’t an artwork or an exhibit; it’s a skate park for Sagkeeng, the First Nation where she’s a member.

“I’m really passionate about that project, because I think youth and the next generation is an investment worth people’s attention and care,” she said.

Isaac skateboards with her son and brought that passion to her curation of the national touring exhibit BoarderX, featuring contemporary art by Indigenous surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders, which was a “source of empowerment and pride for the youth.”

Niimamaa at The Forks was created by artists KC Adams, Val Vint and Jaimie Isaac. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

She’s working on another public art piece for The Forks called The Eighth and Final Fire, and she’s also working on a new exhibit focused on water sovereignty and resource access called To Draw Water, with art from North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course, she also plans to bring art to the skate park planned for Sagkeeng.

“There is a responsibility to the next generation; I want to contribute to creating spaces of cultural pride, hope and empowerment,” she said in an email sent as an addition to an interview.

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