Julie is a multi-disciplinary First Nations Anishinaabe (Ojibway) artist and citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, as well as a mental health counselor and advocate. Ogichida Waawaashkeshi’kwe is the Ojibway (Chippewa) name given to her by her First Nation Elders on her mother’s side. It means Brave Deer Woman.
Her father was born in Italy and immigrated to Canada. He is a well-known Canadian artist commissioned by the Government of Canada to paint permanent works that are displayed in the National War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.
Both of her parents are incredible artists and mentored her since the age of 7.
Since 1992, she has worked with vulnerable populations in various settings (nationally and internationally). She is a former Domestic Violence Centre Executive Director, and currently an advocate, speaker, writer and a clinical caseworker at a healing treatment centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada where she works primarily with Indigenous youth and families with complex trauma histories. Prior to her current work in Saskatchewan, she lived and worked with charitable organizations in Switzerland, impoverished Indigenous populations in Mexico, and refugees in Canada.
She is the founder of a community outreach program and routinely speaks on the subject of domestic violence. She is also a survivor of a violent 12 year marriage to a former federal police officer who is currently serving a life sentence in prison for child rape and first degree murder.
Julie has made a life-long commitment to educate the public as well as improve the quality of living for families touched by trauma and domestic violence. The majority of her time is spent working with Indigenous / First Nations people.
Creative endeavors have always been her passion. Her work speaks to the relationship between Indigenous people and the reality of the world they live in. She comments on the boundaries that humans create (borders, reservations) as juxtaposed with the natural boundaries of nature (airflow, water-flow). Her message often speaks to the idea that we are all connected. She is interested in the ways that indigenous and non-indigenous people's interpretations of her work differ, specifically with regards to the treatment of land and nature: on the one hand respected and imbued with spiritual qualities and on the other looked at as a resource. Without judgement, she says, humans can feel that all things are ultimately intertwined.