2021 Community Arts Award Finalists

The 2021 finalists of the Community Arts Award are...

 Naty Tremblay (they/them)  is a mixed blood identical twin & trickster, queer activist and community organizer, cyborg storyteller, arts educator-facilitator, artrepreneur, iconoclast and one-person band. They hail from a wee organic farm on Anishinabek three-fire confederacy & Haudenosaunee territory, Ontario, and uses ‘They’ and ‘Handsome’ as preferred pronouns. Naty carries the conviction and strength of their Métis French Farmer roots, and the experiences as a queer identical twin and rambler to imbue criticality and creativity into everything they engage with. They deeply believe in the transformative powers of artful community engaged decision-making, equitable knowledge sharing, and creative collaboration to manifest the solutions and strategies we all need to live and work with wellness and meaning. Creating socio-political mixed media and performative works as an independent artist and community collaborator, Naty weaves stories on the street and stages in Toronto Canada & internationally. Their creative pedagogy explores intersections of identity, passing, healing, social justice mobilizing, queer resistance, hybrid humanities, collaboration, and artistic acts of decolonization and love.

Image credit: @ninjahmal - taken by Jahmal Nugent, a brilliant media maker at Sketch! 

 Ruben “Beny” Esguerra (he/him) arrived as a child to Tkaronto from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents, who were receiving threats for their human rights activism. Today, he is a JUNO nominated multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. in 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award. As a musician/producer and spoken-word poet, he leads New Tradition Music, performing regularly in national and international festivals. As an arts educator, he has designed courses taught at Canadian Universities and currently facilitates interactive virtual and in-person drumming, storytelling and beat-making workshops in schools across Ontario. As a community worker, he is the music director/facilitator of several community arts programs within organizations such as: Vibe Arts, Right Path World Arts, Casa Maiz and Children’s Peace Theatre among others. In addition, he co-leads the NTM Wheel It Studios mobile project which provides access to equipment and mentorship to Jane Finch artists across different neighbourhoods. Ruben is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology specializing in Colombian traditional music and Hip Hop culture. His upcoming album–Northside KUISi–combines Hiphop with Latinx music styles set to be released on Oct 15, 2021 with Lulaworld Records.

 Queen Kukoyi (she/they) is a Black Bajan of Nigerian ancestry, queer femme presenting, mother, author, educator, scholar, activist, and international artist as well as co-lead of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada. As a creative, Queen explores spoken word poetry, digital collage, and animations along with installation work that touches on concepts surrounding the Afrofuturistic meditative space. Queen’s artistic practice converges music, art, and sciences as performed and lived through intersectional Blackness. Her work allows her to speak about all intersections and amplify the voices of those who share similar experiences. Queen’s story is one filled with complex and life-altering occurrences that deeply informs the type of work she engages in. Her work reflects her devotion to community, using art as a healing tool to give voice to those who have experienced harm or marginalization, and contributes to the narratives of building greater and more equitable spaces. Queen graduated from Centennial College with a diploma in Social Service Work and is working towards a Bachelor of Social Work at X University (prev. Ryerson). She is the recipient of the 2019 Alumni of Distinction award from Centennial College.

Image credit: Cristina DaSilva