WAG-Qaumajuq to Launch Winnipeg Indigenous Triennial with Naadohbii: To Draw Water, Presented by BMO Financial Group

Major international show on environmental, political, and human rights issues connected to water

UPDATED July 16, 2021: Due to the pandemic, this exhibition will now open on August 14, 2021, with a virtual celebration on August 13, 2021 at 7pm CT.

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory, June 21, 2021:  On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq is pleased to announce the inaugural Winnipeg Indigenous Triennial is planned to open on July 17, 2021, provincial health orders permitting. Presented by BMO Financial Group, Naadohbii: To Draw Water brings together contemporary Indigenous artwork from Turtle Island, Aotearoa, and AustraliaWith this triennial, WAG-Qaumajuq is committing to a large-scale Indigenous exhibition every three years.

For Naadohbii: To Draw Water, curators found parallels between Anishinaabe knowledge and international Indigenous narratives surrounding water. Naadohbii (NAH-DOH-BEY) is from the Anishinaabemowin language and translates as to draw/seek waterThe name was gifted by Elder Dr. Mary Courchene. Featuring over 20 artistsincluding some newly commissioned pieces, Naadohbii: To Draw Water illustrates an axis of solidarity between Indigenous nations across the globe around environmental, political, and cultural traditions and interconnected relationships to water.

Naadohbii: To Draw Water considers the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, recognizing the power of art in enacting change. This exhibition contributes dialogue towards water and our changing environment from an Indigenous perspective and with an international scope. Our world is profoundly linked to water in all forms for human and ecological survival. Water is sacred. Water is life.

Naadohbii: To Draw Water is curated by Jaimie Isaac, WAG Curator of Indigenous & Contemporary Art with Reuben Friend, Director, and Ioana Gordon-Smith, Curator, Pātaka Art + Museum, Wellington, New Zealand; and Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator, South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, Museums Victoria, Australia.

Quick Facts:

  • Naadohbii: To Draw Water is the inaugural Winnipeg Indigenous Triennial, planned to open July 17, 2021, provincial health orders permitting, and running until February 2022.
  • The exhibition will launch with a free virtual event on July 23, 2021 at 7pm CT, giving the public a sneak peek of the show. Watch for details at wag.ca.
  • An international symposium on water will take place in the fall, details to follow at wag.ca.
  • Naadohbii is derived from the Anishinaabemowin language, meaning to draw/seek water.
  • Curated by Jaimie Isaac, WAG-Qaumajuq Curator of Contemporary & Indigenous Art, in an international exchange with guest curators from Museums Victoria Australia and Pātaka Art + Museum New Zealand.
  • Curators and artists share international narratives surrounding water and cultural connections to water in multi-artistic disciplines and traditions, film, sound, painting, sculpture, print, photography, and textiles.
  • The exhibition features eight artists and one collective from Canada, six artists from Australia, and five from Aotearoa (New Zealand). See the full list of artists at wag.ca/naadohbii
  • Watch for exciting programming throughout the show, including in-person and virtual experiences like panel discussions and workshops with the artists, curators, and community members.
  • With this triennial, WAG-Qaumajuq is committing to a large-scale contemporary Indigenous exhibition every three years.

Featured Artists:

From the WAG-Qaumajuq collection: William Noah, Jessie Oonark.

Turtle Island (North America) artists: Christi Belcourt, Rebecca BelmoreKevin Brownlee, Lindsay Dobbin, Maria HupfieldMarianne Nicolson, Onaman Collective (Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch).

Australian artists: Dr. Vicki CouzensIshmael MarikaJames TylorElisa Jane (Leecee) CarmichaelNici CumpstonRegina Pilawuk Wilson. 

Aotearoa (New Zealand) artists: Israel BirchNikau HindinJeremy Leatinu’uNova PaulRachael Rakena.


The Winnipeg Art Gallery is thrilled to host the Winnipeg Indigenous Triennial within the inaugural year of Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre. This first Triennial will celebrate the incredible talent of local, national, and international Indigenous artists working today in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. We are grateful to BMO Financial Group for supporting this transformative initiative as the WAG continues on our journey of Indigenization.

— Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, WAG-Qaumajuq

“Water is a large body of knowledge and matter to draw upon and this exhibition will represent cross-cultural Indigenous multi-disciplinary artistic traditions and multi-vocal perspectives and multi-sensory experiences. The international curatorial team and the artistic production presented will broaden ideas and deepen our connection to water. With the rising sea levels, changing waterways, addressing clean water accessibility to highlighting traditional cultural connections to water – exploring these concepts through contemporary art is appropriate to the current times we live within.”

— Jaimie Isaac, Curator of Indigenous & Contemporary Art, WAG-Qaumajuq

Naadohbii: To Draw Water brings together different Indigenous perspectives to galvanize just how fundamental water is in nearly every aspect of our lives. Despite the current challenges of travel, this exhibition underscores the global importance of Indigenous voices and the ways in which we can continue to share and connect across oceans and digital currents.

— Ioana Gordon-Smith, Curator, Pātaka Art + Museum

For First Peoples, our country of earth, sky and water grounds us in our history, our identity and our futures and water is pertinent to the survival of all of three of these aspects to who we are. The meeting of First Peoples artists from Australia, New Zealand and Canada in Naadohbii: To Draw Water brings together the multiple approaches to stories of freshwater and saltwater, to the movement of people and animal kin that rely on this resource and the harsh reality of ever-present dry riverbeds and receding shorelines.  The works in the exhibition generously share a strength of ongoing cultural practices and connection to water and asks people to reflect on their relationship to this important element to our lands and how we must all work to respect it.”

Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator, South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, Museums Victoria

BMO is honoured to support Naadohbii: To Draw Water, which brings together the works of Indigenous artists from Canada, New Zealand and Australia around the theme of water — an element that sustains and changes our landscapes and our communities. It’s essential for all Canadians to understand Indigenous perspectives, and we are proud to sponsor an exhibition that will deepen our knowledge and appreciation of the artistic traditions and experiences of Indigenous peoples.”

— Kristen Kennedy, Regional Vice President, Personal Banking, BMO Financial Group


WAG-Qaumajuq thanks Lead Sponsor BMO Financial Group, programming partners Manitoba Indigenous and Northern Relations and Australia Council For The Arts, and museum partners Pātaka Art + Museum and Melbourne Museum. 

Associated Links

Naadohbii: To Draw Water

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Amy Rebecca Harrison
Engagement Supervisor
Winnipeg Art Gallery


The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. Opened in March 2021, Qaumajuq connects to the WAG on all levels, celebrating the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. The new WAG-Qaumajuq cultural campus is now one of the largest art museums in Canada. To learn more visit wag.ca.


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