Carley Gallant-Jenkins,
Visual Artist and Beader

Discover Brantford's arts and culture scene with Carley Gallant-Jenkins, Cayuga Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, who was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario. 

As a generational Survivor herself, Carley is passionate about recording the history and impact of the Residential School system in Canada. Her presentations, artwork and personal conversations help to bring awareness to the issues First Nations communities are dealing with today as a result of colonization.

Carley Gallant-Jenkins

Tell us a little about yourself:

I've worked at Woodland Cultural Centre, which is the former Mohawk Institute and first Residential School in Canada, for a number of years. I began as a summer student during my studies at Sheridan College and after three years working at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto as Administrative Coordinator for the international festival Planet IndigenUS, I returned to Woodland Cultural Centre and am now the Save the Evidence Coordinator (currently on maternity leave). Save the Evidence is a campaign to raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, and to develop the building into an interpreted historic site and educational resource. 

Some of my achievements include curating the 2017 First Nations Art Exhibition, sitting on the jury for Ontario Arts Council’s Artists in Communities and Schools Projects in 2019, acting as a current member of the Indigenous Education Council at Sheridan College and as a board member for the Willowbridge Community Services. In 2016, I created and curated an art project called “I AM” based on self-portrait art and audio interviews of First Nations youth from Tyendinaga Quinte Mohawk School. As a visual artist and beader, my work has been showcased in exhibitions, featured in a film production and in Fashion Magazine. Most recently, I exhibited in the Indigenous Art 2021 Exhibition with a portrait painting of residential school Survivor, Geronimo Henry. 

Woodland Cultural Centre

The Woodland Cultural Centre operates a museum and gallery alongside the former Mohawk Institute Residential School and serves to preserve, promote, protect and celebrate Indigenous history, art, language and culture. Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence campaign aims to raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former residential school, and to develop the building into an Interpreted Historic Site and Educational Resource. As one of only a handful of residential school buildings left still standing in Canada, it is a physical reminder of the legacy of assimilation imposed upon Indigenous children in Canada.

What are some must-visit art galleries, museums and cultural sites in Brantford? 

The Woodland Cultural Centre is my favourite art gallery and museum in Brantford. Their mandate is to preserve and promote Indigenous history, art, language and culture. When you visit you will learn about the Haudenosaunee people through innovative exhibitions and programs. They have a permanent Indigenous History and Culture museum, Indigenous Library and Language Resource Centre, three rotating art galleries, the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School historic site, and 5 acres of grounds and green spaces with outdoor exhibits. Throughout the year, they host a number of different events like exhibitions, Artist Talks, Live music, theatre, festivals, workshops and more. Despite being built on the site of the former residential school, the main focus of this passionate organization is contemporary and ever changing aspects of Indigenous life and artistry.

My family and I recently attended the breathtaking Quinn Smallboy: String Theory exhibition at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant. They showcase rotating visiting exhibitions as well as their own collection which includes works by the Group of Seven, Norval Morrisseau, Andy Warhol, and more. This site also features an array of exterior art installations which makes for a beautiful walk.

Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts’ beautiful theatre is home to concerts, films, musicals, plays and festivals. Recently they hosted a virtual event with Investigative journalist and author, Tanya Talaga on “Rights before Reconciliation” in support of the Save the Evidence campaign. They have lots of exciting events coming up this fall and winter season.

There are a lot of great events that come through Brantford and unfortunately some of them seem to go under the radar, but if you keep your eyes peeled, there are some true gems that pop up.

How can visitors experience the arts during the fall and winter? 

There are lots of great events happening in Brantford this season. Woodland Cultural Centre's 2021 fall/winter lineup includes:

Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant also has some great upcoming exhibitions, including:

The Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts has too many upcoming events to list as they catch up on programming that was postponed due to the pandemic. 

Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant exterior

What are some of your favourite places to bring family and friends? 

A perfect day out in Brantford with family and friends would include stopping for a snack at Heathy Rabbit and hopping on the S.C. Johnson Trail before making our way to Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant to view the exterior and interior exhibitions. After that, we would head to Fume RestoBar for some delicious Greek and Mediterranean food for lunch. Our next stop would be to the Woodland Cultural Centre, hopefully to attend one of their amazing events, and to go through their museum and interior and exterior exhibitions. After that, we’d head to Manns Distillery and Brantwood Farms before finishing off the day at my family's restaurant, Al Dente.

Fume RestoBar

What’s something you’d like people to know about the arts in Brantford?

One fantastic event that I just participated in was the annual Holmedale Art Crawl, which highlighted lots of our local artists and crafters. The experience of exploring the familiar streets of our neighbourhood and uncovering open doors and unfamiliar, surprising arts was immensely gratifying. Like walking the aisles of Wylde Rose Handmade Soaps on King George Rd, discovering the creativity of local crafters and artists is always inspiring to me.