Kathleen (Katy) Gill is a painter and poet based in Ontario, Canada. She received a grant to create a series of acrylic paintings of dogs in their pack called “Reserved and Deserved,” to reflect the complexities at work in the Canadian far north in isolated and First Nation regions, and to benefit a First Nation–adjacent animal welfare group. She writes:
I aim for the series to bring forward the on-going issues regarding feral and semi-feral dogs throughout northern communities, and the resources and education needed to further develop healthy and safe environments between humans and dogs. I would like my artwork to have a positive impact on viewers and create an emotional response through subdued color and atmospheric space.
Katy was a volunteer art teacher in the northern fly-in community which led her to not only supporting community members, but also a pack of stray and semi-domesticated dogs. She organized the dogs to be flown out to Winnipeg to receive needed veterinary care and to be adopted. Her art was featured at Blackgate Tattoo Collective located in Strathroy, ON in November of 2019. She rewrote a book of photography of dogs and added photos of her own artwork to help raise awareness. She has received positive feedback on the project and people have said that they are grateful to know more about these issues.
In addition to enabling Katy to display her paintings (see below), her CAF grant allowed her to make some photo books to give as gifts for those who helped with the dog rescue. The book was so popular that she ended up extending the writing of it and including more photos to share additional information about her experience living in the First Nation community and rescuing the dogs. In March 2022, Eaglespeaker Publishing published Reserved & Deserved: The Dogs of the Shamattawa First Nation. To learn more about Katy’s project, you can listen to her speak on a podcast titled “Seeking opportunities for compassion through creativity with Katy Gill.” Katy’s work is available on Instagram @k.t.gill and on her website. She writes:
The book reflects on when I lived in Shamattawa in 2016, and was a volunteer art teacher. It’s an isolated community in northern Manitoba which can only be accessed by plane or the ice road in the winter. Living there, I became very attached to a pack of stray dogs because they protected the teacher units and would always stay with me. Due to having no access to veterinary care, the dog population was very high, which led to multiple dog shoots, illness, and dog attacks on other dogs and people, especially children. Aside from helping community members, I made it my mission to have the pack of dogs and their puppies flown out to Winnipeg and rescued, all while creating connection between the people and dogs, and increased education. I’m hoping that the book will help to raise awareness for needed reconciliation, living situations in remote Indigenous communities, and the importance of accessible veterinary care to ensure the health and safety of both dogs and people.