By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Mackenzie Brown is a multi-talented Cree artist from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation with a degree in Childcare.
She is also the lead of Industry Development at Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA). Her role at ITA is one of helping its members grow their businesses. “We do one on one business coaching, helping them apply for funding, website development and helping navigate across the barriers that they are facing,” said Brown.
Outside of her roles at ITA, Brown is an international Indigenous drummer, singer, storyteller, knowledge seeker, artist, and songwriter.
Her creative gifts earned her a Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. Her artwork has been featured at the Pump House Gallery, Arts Commons Calgary, the Edson Gallery Museum, and the Gray Gallery of MacEwan University.
Mackenzie Brown’s love of art and creative expression was fostered by her mother, Matricia Brown, a singer, songwriter, musician, drummer and an artist. Recently, Matricia Brown was selected to participate as 1 of 18 businesses chosen across Canada to compete in Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN’s) newest show, Bear’s Lair.
Talent runs in the family and Mackenzie and her mother perform together as part of an acclaimed drumming group called Warrior Women. “I have been singing since I was 12 years old,” said Brown.
According to ITA, Warrior Women, is a Women’s collective, a drumming group, a mother and a daughter who are rooted in tradition, and ambassadors of their knowledge.
The mother-daughter duo has traveled internationally to perform and educate others on their Cree heritage through song and dance.
“My mom and I have traveled to Africa, New York, and San Diego. So, I spent a large part of my life traveling the world and singing and dancing with my mother,” said Brown. “I have also drummed and taught in many schools around Alberta, for many events including the Northern Alberta Teachers Conference, Silver Skate Festival, the annual Jasper Dark Skies Festival, Youth Dreamcatchers Conference, Canada Day, Indigenous Day festivities, and International Women’s Day.”
“Drumming and singing are a huge part of my identity.”
Mackenzie and her mother share a very close bond and provide each other with unconditional support.
“It’s amazing because my mother and I have a very close relationship,” she said. “We are best friends.”
Brown shared that her mother is part of Canada’s sixties scoop and that she used singing and drumming to reclaim her identity as an indigenous Cree woman.
“So, for me, growing up, drumming and singing were a way to create my identity as a Cree woman,” said Brown.
Growing up with strong and creative women helped form my identity, she added.
When Brown is not performing, she is creating art. On her website kamamak.ca, she describes what inspires her artwork.
“My art reflects âtayôhkan- spirit guides or animals. Drawing from inspirational people in my life and the teachings of various animals.”
“I create paintings that represent a loved one’s essence. The thing that I love about my art is that everyone sees something different. Animals remind us of people, and I am happy that my art can create emotions and remembrance for others. My pieces have movement and are meant to feel alive, just like the spirit animal reflected in each painting.”
The multitalented artist added, “I love to teach about my culture authentically and beautifully, and I love telling the stories of my ancestors and keeping our traditions strong, passing them on to the many generations to come. So, I infuse stories and songs within my performances, taking participants on a journey with the drum.
Most recently, Brown performed at the ATB Arts Barns in “Ayita” which was written by Teneil Whiskeyjack from Saddlelake Cree Nation.
“I was live drumming and singing,” Brown explained. “It was a play about Indigenous women who were not victims. In fact, they are celebrated, it’s all about women’s sovereignty and [sharing] women’s stories. The performance was rooted in the ceremony.”
For more information on Brown, check out her website at kamamak.ca.