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‘He is Whole’ exhibit shares re-discovery, connection to Indigenous culture

New project and exhibition by photographer and short film maker Wayne Simpson coming to gallery at Elora Centre for the Arts
Self-portrait by photographer Wayne Simpson. An opening reception for 'He is Whole' will be held on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m.

‘Miziwezi’ (pronounced Miz-e-way-zee) means ‘He is Whole’ in Ojibwe. It is also the name of a new project and exhibition by photographer and short film maker Wayne Simpson, coming soon to the gallery at the Elora Centre for the Arts. Ojibwe artist Wayne Simpson of Aamjiwnaang First Nation has been on a year-long personal journey of self-discovery where he investigated his indigenous roots. In his culminating exhibition, Simpson has endeavored to capture the importance of his once-forbidden culture and heritage through a foundation of openness, in pursuit of connection and belonging. 

Wayne’s early childhood was spent between the Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation and Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reservations. “Childhood was not pleasant for a half white child growing up on reserve” explains Simpson. “At the age of 7 I was taken off reserve where I lived with my white biological father and step-mother. It wasn’t until this project that I was able to truly go back and learn about my Ojibwe culture and start to come to peace with my identity” he says. The year-long journey was made possible through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, procured through the Elora Centre for the Arts. 

Over several months, Wayne was able to meet with his extended family, Council and community members at Aamjiwnaang First Nation who showed him patience as he observed, listened, and absorbed all that he could. “I had an idea of what I thought I might learn when this all started” says Simpson. “But honestly it evolved into so much more than I could have imagined. These months of relationship building, ceremony and vulnerability have given me pride for my indigenous culture” he says. 

The exhibition includes a short film by Simpson, plus several large-scale photographs that chronicle his experience and learning. “Capturing the teachings of Wayne’s culture and sharing it with the world in a way that is truly his own, Wayne’s unique perspective and life experience united with his talent for storytelling through film is a powerful combination” says Lianne Carter, Executive Director at the Elora Centre for the Arts. 


The community is invited to attend an Artist Reception: Sunday, Oct. 15 from 2 p.m., in the gallery at the Elora Centre for the Arts. Admission is free, refreshments served. 

Gallery Exhibition: runs until Dec. 23, 2023.