Ocean Kiana is an Nishinaabe woodland style artist from North Western Ontario raised by the Martiarch’s of her family. Her Nishinaabe name is Waabski Memegwans, meaning White Butterfly and she is of the Wolf Clan. In her home reserves Biigtigong Nishnaabeg(Pic River First Nation) and Netmizaagamig Nishinaabeg(Pic Mobert First Nation) she grew up attending ceremonies, powwows, and being out on the land with her grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, mom and sister.
Throughout her youth, she worked in her home community of Biigtigong participating in various canoe trips that centred around the revitalization of her two communities Nishinaabe languages and traditional name sakes. She held previous roles in her community as Traditional Knowledge Gather, conducting of interviews with elders and community members on traditions, stories and ceremonial practices. After she went on, as the Land Based Activity Coordinator, planning a canoe trip down the Pic River. This and many of the other trips that Ocean has partaken held core values and intentions of reclaiming the traditional highway that her ancestors use to journey on.
She is currently studying her Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabe Studies with a minor in Visual Arts Fundamentals at Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. Ocean worked as the K’Chitwa Kwe for Nogdawindamin Family and Community services, in the Cultural Department. Working alongside knowledge holders and teachers, influencing Anishinaabe culture and identity in the lives of her clients. She worked in the various communities of the North-shore including, Batchawana First Nation, Garden River First Nation, Mississaugi First Nation and Serpent River First Nation.
Ocean comes with a background of digital art, painting, drawing, beading, and sewing. Her Anishinaabe territory, community, and identity has a strong influence in the art she creates consisting of viabrant colours, florals and woodland style dancer’s. She gives her credit to the many Anishinaabe artists who came before her, including Nicole Richmond, Shannon Gustafson, Amanda Suganaqueb, Dallas Abitong, and Marlene Syrette.
Ocean is a strong advocate for Indigenous people and a respected community member, who to date has been award two highly esteemed awards by Trent University: the “Louise Garrow Prize” from Peter Gzowski College and the First People’s House of Learning (2019) and the “Peter Gzowski Student Excellence Award” from Peter Gzowski College (2019). Ocean continues to advocate and work for her communities through her various art forms and community work.