Annie Beach is a Cree and Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation who grew up in Winnipeg and is a fine arts student at the University of Manitoba (U of M).
Beach has been involved in the Fine Arts Students Association and the Indigenous Students Association at the U of M, West End BIZ’s Mural Mentorship Program and Synonym Art Consultation, and she is the Canadian Federation of Students’ Circle of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Rep for Manitoba.
She has worked with Kenneth Lavallee on the Star Blanket Project and also creates a lot of personal art.
Among her latest noteworthy projects, she and Mahri White created a response to a recent white supremacist poster campaign at U of M. Beach and White wanted to create “a counteractive message.”
“It was this message from an Instagram account called Reclaim Your Power, and it said ‘My love for my people is stronger than anyone’s hate,’” Beach says. “Anybody could identify with that.”
It was important to Beach and her creative partner that this project be primarily for the students.
“We didn’t want to make it a big political act, like ‘okay, at 12 a.m., we’re going to dress up in black’ like these people who did anonymously and put up these (White Supremacist) posters,” she says. “No, I’m just going to give these to the students. They’re a gift for them.”
Beach traces the beginning of her activism philosophy to a mentorship program called Nakota Girls that she participated in during high school. She says the program helped her learn about Indigeneity and gave her the opportunity to learn while also mentoring younger kids.
“I think there’s a lot of value to working in a community-type space, where people are learning from each other and for each other,” she says.
Beach’s latest project is a performance/“protest public art piece” taking place on the U of M quad this week.
“It’s going to be a commentary on land acknowledgements,” Beach says.
She says land acknowledgements do not happen consistently at U of M, and this piece is “an opportunity to reclaim land on the university campus for Indigenous students and Indigenous purposes.”