Tashina Makokis

Major: Art & Design
Minor: Native Studies

What band are you from: Saddle Lake Cree Nation, AB

Where did you grow up? It varied between Edmonton and Saddle Lake. But I have been in Edmonton since I was 14 years old.

Why did you choose the U of A, Faculty of Arts? I didn’t know what I wanted to do after spending four years in Calgary and working as a personal care attendant for special needs people. My mom encouraged me to apply to Norquest College in 2008, so I did, and I ended up completing the Digital Graphics Communications Program in 2010. After I finished, I knew I wanted to further my study of art and design, so I chose U of A to pursue my journey further.

Why did you choose the Faculty of Arts? I got into the Faculty of Arts through the one year Aboriginal Transition Year Program (TYP). From there, I applied for and got in to the Bachelor of Arts in Art & Design program. I chose this program because I felt like it would compliment my previous education from Norquest College; however in the spring of 2011, I took an Arts Fundamental course and it changed my life. So now, I am currently working on a portfolio to apply to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art and Design for next Fall.

You also went to the 10-week school in Cortona, Italy through the U of A: This was an exciting opportunity and an important trip for me. Both my grandmothers had passed away last year, and by August something told me to apply; even though I had never travelled abroad before, and I did not have the means to go. When I got the acceptance letter from Cortona, my response was, “Okay, now how am I going to get myself there?”. I had to face some funding issues, but everything worked out. Italy challenged my boundaries as a person who loves home, but I am so glad I took the risk and went. I attribute this amazing journey to my grandmothers looking over me and guiding me, it was what I needed to do to honour them and learn more about life.

Career-wise what do you see yourself doing with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design? I would like to start an Aboriginal Youth Arts Centre Co-op in Edmonton. There is an important need nowadays for Aboriginal youth to express themselves. I think art is an avenue where one can express themselves without the confines of being told what to do/how to think/how to feel. Also, I am also not a “9 to 5” type of person, and I think being an artist you can create a different world that doesn’t have to adhere to the usual job requirements, you can adjust your life to fit around your art, and that is what I aspire to.

Any last words? Art has healing properties. With art, you can express yourself on the outside and heal on the inside. I am not a naturally gifted artist, but I enjoy art immensely and that is what is important in my life. I enjoy the process. I am better able to navigate the world through art and the expression it allows me to have. As an Aboriginal person, I am able to prosper and fully develop and deepen my artistic path at the Faculty of Arts.