Monday, November 24, 2014

My latest newsletter

Re-thinking traditional design for the modern world
The best part about being a multi-displinary artist is that I get to try different things that connect with my personal philosophies. So far in my career, I've had the pleasure of designing coins for the Royal Canadian Mint, illustrating children's books and creating paintings or sculptures using a variety of media. As a subsistence hunter, I'm fond of including animal hides into my body of work to complete the cycle of honouring life.

In recent years, I've also discovered the pleasure of making traditional Trapper Hats. They are made of fur and leather or Melton Wool. They feel terrific – soft and supple and gorgeous. They smell awesome. I make a point of obtaining pelts from Canadian trappers or organizations that share my values in hunting LESS (legally, ethically, safely & sustainably). I love how pelts and hides are imperfect and can sometimes present challenges while working with them. In my opinion, they are still perfect though – perfectly rustic.I love the model of hat I’m working with. It’s practical, warm and luxurious yet unpretentious. It’s a testament to the old fur trade. I love that I can be creative with the same model while maintaining its basic, historical construction.

When beadwork is added to the hat, it evolves. It becomes a crown, a work of art. I also love that the beadwork style evolved from a truly Canadian tradition – one that blends the styles of First Nations and the settler Europeans. The beading style that is known as the Metis beadwork is, in fact, now recognized as Canada’s first art form*.

Another fun project I created turns a traditional moccasin into a luxurious home décor item. The Moccushion is a high end cushion that is based on the Northern Metis style moccasin. The Moccushion is made using the same hand-made construction techniques and materials as the traditional moccasin. The beadwork is also based on traditional patterns but, like the Trapper Hats, is updated in colours and composition to suit modern styling. 

If you're interested in learning more about these projects, or to order your own custom made Trapper Hat or Moccushion, please visit or call the studio at 905-868-8372.

PS: Visits to the studio are strictly by appointment. And I'm ALWAYS happy to discuss artwork commissions and sales. :)

*Source: "The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America", edited by Jacqueline Peterson and Jennifer S. H. Brown, The University of Manitoba Press, 1985, ISBN: 0-88755-617-5.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Seven Sacred Teachings" Coin Project

Finally, a year and a half in the making, the full set of coins for the very special "7 Sacred Teachings" project I worked on with The Mint is now released. Each coin represents a sacred teaching. In this format, it is a special treasure and a learning tool that will be passed down among the generations of collectors, ensuring the teachings live on. Along with the Mint staff and the Elders, academics and experts we consulted with, we were diligent in ensuring the meaning and essence of each teaching was accurate. I also tried to ensure my interpretations stayed true to the teaching but that the designs were universal enough for anyone to understand.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Directions

New focus. New direction. New work in progress!
The natural course of a creative journey - so far.

Also coming soon: Tradition | Reinvented

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me about your creative projects or commissions. You are also welcome to continue visiting There are still a few older pieces available for purchase listed on the site. Plus you can learn about my projects with the Royal Canadian Mint and the exhibition Indiginesse.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Another piece done just for fun

Another small piece done purely just for fun. Think I'll give the pepper a glossy spot varnish.

Inspired by mosquitoes?

A piece I did just for fun. It's called "Muskoka Sunset". Who would ever have thought I'd be inspired by mosquitoes... I was going to call it "Canadian Gothic" but then figured I'd save that title for if I ever painted a portrait of a couple holding a zapper racquet.

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Letting Go" (2014)

"Letting Go" (2014)
Acrylic, wrapped canvas
Ducks get rid of their old, tattered feathers once a year. During the moult, they can’t fly and it leaves them open to predators. That’s where the saying "sitting duck" comes from.
Humans often have trouble letting go -- of worn out ideas, attitudes, colour palettes or even of people and guilt. The reasons are plentiful and the fear of being left vulnerable is not easy to overcome.
The big difference between us and the ducks is that ducks don’t have a choice with the timing of their biological process.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Indiginesse Opens to the Beats of Hearts & Drums

View link in your browser


27 May 2014

We are thrilled that the opening reception was a resounding success! From the opening speeches, to performances in traditional song, poetry, fiddling and even a round dance -- we had it all and enjoyed sharing it with everyone!

Artists' statement:"Indiginesse is the culmination by valiant, contemporary Native women artists working to offer healing, education, and to inform all communities. May this exhibition bring greater compassion, understanding, health, and peace as we all seek to offer responsible caring towards all of our many communities."

In an impromptu visit to see Indiginesse, the Right Honourable Paul Martin called the exhibition


May 28: 10AM-2:30PM Traditional Metis Beading Registered Workshop with Nathalie Bertin
Limited space – pre-registration is required. No prior experience necessary. Course fee $50 plus HST, plus materials fee of $15

June 4: 2-3PM   “Concrete Indian” | An Art Talk with Anishinaabe artist Nadya Kwandibens
Free admission, all welcome

June 20: 8PM
Memere le Colibri: A Fiddle Performance”8pm, Featuring Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk, Metis violinist
Tickets $10 plus HST; Family of 4 (2adults and 2 children) $35 plus HST
Appropriate for ages 10 and up

Exhibition dates: May 7 to June 28, 2014
Gallery hours:
Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm, and during special events
Free admission

For further information, or to registers for workshops and purchase tickets, please drop by the Aurora Cultural Centre (22 Church Street, Aurora, ON) or call the office at 905-713-1818.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fine Silver Coin - The Seven Sacred Teachings: Respect - Mintage: 7,000 (2014)

Fine Silver Coin - The Seven Sacred Teachings: Respect - Mintage: 7,000 (2014): Second coin in the series! Features selective gold-plating!

Native women share perspectives in landmark exhibition

May 7, 2014        

By Brock Weir

As a Metis woman, Nathalie Bertin didn’t discover her Aboriginal heritage until she was in her mid-20s.

In Ontario and Quebec, she says, assimilation happened much earlier than it did in Western Canada and there are many families who might not even know they have native blood. This was not the case with Ms. Bertin.

Her parents knew of their heritage but, with three children growing up in Toronto, they were reluctant to say anything due to negative images of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples which were pervasive at the time. But, eventually, their heritage came to light.

“A light goes on and you understand certain things in life,” says Ms. Bertin of discovering her roots as an adult. “Quite frankly, I feel ripped off about it and I feel like I have spent the last 20 years catching up because there is so much to learn. There is a lot of beauty in the culture.”

This is a beauty the Newmarket-based artist has tried to share through her work and this week, her vision, three years in the making, will be unveiled at the Aurora Cultural Centre in Indiginesse: Perspectives from Contemporary Native Women.

Hailed by the Aurora Cultural Centre as one of the primary cornerstones of their 2014 season, the exhibition formally opened for viewing on Wednesday, with the official opening reception scheduled for Thursday, May 15.

Indiginesse brings together the art – and the messages – of Aboriginal and Metis women from coast to coast in work ranging from painting, to sculpture, to textiles.

The initial kernels of the idea were first sown for Ms. Bertin at her own shows where she found herself “explaining Native people to non-Native Canadians” more times than she cared to remember. The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to seek ways to facilitate a true dialogue about what contemporary Native people are all about.

“Yes, they do pay taxes, but let’s get beyond that!” she says with a laugh, noting perceptions can often stem from sound bites and inaccurate history books.

“I have always believed that artists are the ones who accurately record history and I started to get to know my own peers and who my own peers were. Yes, I am speaking from my point of view, but there are artists from across Canada who come from different communities.” Metis from Ontario, she elaborates, are quite different from the Metis of Manitoba. The Ojibwa from the east are very different compared to the residents of Haida Gwaii. Through the process, Ms. Bertin was able to learn more about her peers and her contemporaries.

“I decided to concentrate mostly on women because of the whole aspect of the missing and murdered women from across the country, which is finally starting to get some attention,” she says. “Historically, from the First Nations’ perspective, women are always the ones who were the storytellers and the keepers of the knowledge. They were the ones who kept the traditions of the culture alive. For those reasons, I decided to put a show together of Native women from across the country who are creating, but also have something to say. They are not just creating decorations. They have something to say about where they are coming from in today’s society.”

Artists included in the show are Kayeri Akweks, Christi Belcourt, Lee Claremont, Raven Davis, Lee Deranger, Lita Fontaine, LauraLee K. Harris, Maria Hupfield, Nadya Kwandibens, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Shelley Niro, and Janice Toulouse.

With the artists assembled, the next task was to find a venue and the Aurora Cultural Centre were more than willing hosts. She says she has been lucky that so many women were willing to step up and participate in the show. Curating the diverse work, including painting, beadwork, and contemporary abstract forms, was not an easy task either – but the message soon became clear.

“Amazingly enough, it was the diversity that brought the show together,” says Ms. Bertin. “Everyone was coming from a different perspective and a different point of view. At some point, the show ended up being about different aspects of women’s lives and that is what ultimately ties it together. We are not just talking about the missing and murdered women, we are talking about people’s perceptions. They are all intertwined because these are all issues that face women and, in particular, Aboriginal women.

“It was also, in terms of organizing the events, finding artists who could bring up a subject matter which would also open up the discussions, artists who would be able and willing to answer questions and have that discourse so people could take away. We can’t answer all the questions throughout a show, but we can at least provide a creative forum to allow for more discussion in the future and inspire people to go out and look for more information.”

At the end of the day, for Ms. Bertin, if the show can create a dialogue, that is the measure of success. She says she wants people to come into the show with open minds, although they are braced for that all-too-familiar tax question.

“Even if those are the questions, if they are asked genuinely, it doesn’t matter what the question is so long as the question is asked.”

Indiginesse: Perspectives from Contemporary Native Women runs at the Aurora Cultural Centre from May 7 – June 28. The opening reception will take place Thursday, May 15 from 7 – 9 p.m., with guest Senator Dr. Alis Kennedy. Thursday’s opening will also include poetry and an artist talk with Raven Davis. For more information on the exhibition, including associated performances and workshops, visit

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Culture minted on collector coins

Culture minted on collector coins Huntsville Forester

MUSKOKA – Muskoka artist Nathalie Bertin has stamped her cultural heritage on two new collector coins for the Royal Canadian Mint. 
“It’s very much an honour to be able to claim this as a legacy,” said an excited Bertin. “I can’t explain the feeling when I saw the actual coins.” 
The Métis artist, who incorporates elements of her French and Algonquin heritage into her work, designed a holographic collector coin depicting the Great Hare for the mint last year as part of a series called Northern Lights, which celebrates aboriginal myths about the aurora borealis. 
And now she has two new coins. 
The first, depicting a howling wolf, is an extension of the Northern Lights series, which has since been expanded to include three coins. 
The second, depicting an eagle with outstretched wings, is for a new seven-coin series called Seven Sacred Teachings, which honours the aboriginal cultural cornerstones of respect and sharing. 
Bertin said she was asked by separate project managers at the mint to participate in a design concept competition for each series. Several artists submitted designs to a jury and hers were chosen. 
She said the themes of each series have personal meaning for her. 
“The theme for the Northern Lights stories is special because it allowed me to research traditional tales from the north. It’s a personal interest of mine to preserve these types of stories for future generations,” she said. 
And she said the Seven Sacred Teachings theme is important to First Nations people.
“These are the philosophies of life, otherwise known as Grandfather Teachings. Words to live by,” she said. “It’s a tremendous honour to be able to interpret them artistically and to play a part in bringing these teachings to the general public.” 
She said each series took careful reflection on her part, as it was important to her to interpret the themes respectfully. 
Bertin said the designs in the Northern Lights series are more whimsical. 
But she said she wanted to convey designs for the Seven Sacred Teachings series that were universal enough for anyone to reflect on the images, clearly interpret the messages and impart their own feelings on them. 
Bertin said it is an extraordinary feeling, not only have collectors purchase her work, but also to have her cultural heritage preserved and shared. 
She said a 14-year-old from the United States wrote a review of her first coin on the mint’s website. 
“He tells about how he bought the coin with his own hard-earned money to give as a gift, but decided that he loved it so much that he was going to keep it. My heart melted,” she said.
Bertin said she hopes as a working artist the coins will be a success, but she also hopes people like and cherish the designs as well. 
“Not just because it’s my imagery, but also because of the themes or stories they represent,” she said. “They deserve to be retold for generations to come.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 Exhibition Schedule

Wahsa Gallery presents

April 26 - May 9, 2014
Wahsa Gallery, Winnipeg, MB

INDIGENESSE: An Exhibition of Works by Contemporary Native Women
May 7 - June 28, 2014
Featuring Metis Nation of Ontario
Senator Alis Kennedy, C.D., O.M.C. Ph.D.
Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora, ON
Curator: Nathalie Bertin

Artists Include:
Kayeri Akweks
Christi Belcourt
Lee Claremont
Raven Davis
Lee Deranger
Lita Fontaine
LauraLee K. Harris
Maria Hupfield
Nadya Kwandibens
Tanya Lukin-Linklater
Shelley Niro
Janice Toulouse

Musical Performance by:
Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk
June 20, 8-10PM

Associated Events:
May 15, 7PM: Poetry and artist talk: Raven Davis
May 28 (Time TBA): Beading workshop. *Registration required.
June 4, 2-3PM: Artist talk: Nadya Kwandibens
June 26 (Time TBA): Quill brooch workshop. *Registration required.

OGITCHIDAA KWE (Warrior Women)
May 24 - June 22, 2014
Georgina Art Centre & Gallery, Sutton, ON

Proud contributor to "The Winter We Danced"

Proud to be a contributor to this wonderful book. The Winter We Danced is a collection of art and essays that evolved out the Idle No More movement.

"The Winter We Danced is a vivid collection of writing, poetry, lyrics, art and images from the many diverse voices that make up the past, present, and future of the Idle No More movement. Calling for pathways into healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities while drawing on a wide-ranging body of narratives, journalism, editorials and creative pieces, this collection consolidates some of the most powerful, creative and insightful moments from the winter we danced and gestures towards next steps in an on-going movement for justice and Indigenous self-determination." (ARP Publishing)

Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

Visit ARP Publishing for ordering information.

Two new coins released at the Royal Canadian Mint

Two coin designs released at the Royal Canadian Mint. The coins are for two different series. One coin, Howling Wolf, is the second release for the Storie of the Northern Lights hologram series.
The other coin is the first from the Seven Sacred Teachings series. This first coin features the value of Love and is represented by the Eagle. This latter series will be also be available by subscription for those who want to collect the entire 7-coin set.
Visit The Royal Canadian Mint for all the info!

YouTube video reviews of the Stories of the Northern Lights: The Great Hare coin

This is really exciting! I never would have thought someone would make a video reviewing the coin I designed. I'm happy and relieved the review is positive! Kudos to the Mint's engravers for doing a such a great job interpreting my image.

Here's another video of someone opening a few coins. Mine is reviewed about half way through.