James Nicholas and Sandra Semchuk: We Are Here / Ōta nitayānān
June 6-August 31, 2024

James Nicholas and Sandra Semchuk collaborated on photo-installations and videos for 15 years, from their first meeting in 1993 until Nicholas’s accidental death in 2007. Through their intercultural marriage, they explored the impacts of colonialism. Semchuk, the child of Ukrainian-Canadian settlers from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, and Nicholas, a Rock Cree man from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Manitoba, demonstrated a deep commitment to dialogue in both their work and marriage.

The exhibition’s title plays on the name of their national retrospective, Ithin-eh-wuk—We Place Ourselves at the Centre, organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. The retrospective includes all the artworks here and many more. In We Are Here / Ōta nitayānān, we focus on works with a Ukrainian-Indigenous theme, as part of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada’s effort to explore the long and complex relationships between Ukrainian settlers and the First Peoples of this land.

The questions Nicholas and Semchuk asked each other are personal, sometimes humorous, and sometimes painful. They addressed issues like the marginalization of Ukrainian-Canadian settlers and Nicholas’s experiences as a residential school survivor. Semchuk says their goal was “to recognize the truths in each other’s stories.” Their work also honours the land, plants, and animals that are integral to their stories.

The works in We Are Here / Ōta nitayānān are love stories guided by equality. They invite us to consider our lives together in this place with honesty and compassion.

We thank the MacKenzie Art Gallery for their assistance in organizing this exhibition.

Related Events: 
Conversation with Sandra Semchuk, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Joan Borsa, Elvis Thomas, and Gladys Linklater: Where is Here?
Saturday, June 29 at 2 PM
Free, everyone welcome.

Exhibition Reception
Saturday, June 29 at 3 PM
Free, everyone welcome.