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Memorable Manitobans: Daphne Odjig (1919-2016)

Artist.

Born on Manitoulin Island in 1919, she moved to Manitoba in 1966 and worked as a community development officer at Easterville until moving to Winnipeg in the early 1970s. In 1971, she opened an art shop that became the Odjig Art and Prints Gallery. Also known as the New Warehouse Gallery, it became the Wah-sa Gallery under new owner Gary Scherbain. Known for her pen-and-ink drawings, paintings, and murals, her art career spanned six decades and she was the first indigenous female artist to have her work exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada. She also published a ten-part series of children’s books entitled Nanabush Tales and she and her husband Chester Beavon (1933-2010) published the work of other indigenous artists.

In the 1970s, a newspaper reporter dubbed her a member of the “Indian Group of Seven” that also included Norval Morriseau, Alex Janvier, Joseph Sanchez, Jackson Beardy, Eddie Cobiness, and Carl Ray. In recognition of her community service, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), and was inducted into the Order of Canada (1986).

She moved to Penticton, British Columbia in 1976 where she died on 1 October 2016.

Sources:

Obituary [Chester Noel Beavon], Winnipeg Free Press, 29 November 2010, page 45.

“Aboriginal artist’s career spanned six decades,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 October 2016.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 January 2022

Memorable Manitobans

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