Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocachq (The Water Spirit) grew up in Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. Her love of art stems from a childhood where she connected with nature, playing in the trees and sitting by the water.
After studying at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Sappier found creative expression through visual arts and storytelling. This led her to further explore her Aboriginal roots through traditional ceremonies, teachings, language and medicine.
As part of her artistic journey, Sappier began adding performance art to her work as a way to further express how she sees the world. In 2015, Natalie was named Artist in Residence at Theatre New Brunswick where she developed her first production, entitled "Finding Wolastoq Voice". In celebration of the NBYO's Canada: A Young 150, Sappier has created a visual piece that sees this event from a First Nations perspective, connecting the past to the future, and modern day to our natural surroundings.
Only recently have I been able to say that I have traveled around all our landscapes of New Brunswick, the lands and the waters of my Wolastoq people and of our Mik’maq brothers and sisters. The hills and valleys, streams and rivers and lakes, the very light and shadow of earth chant and drum the truths and rhythms of our ancestors.
In my first encounter listening to the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, they magically, and musically, transported me all around my homeland. Music, always a forceful inspiration in my creative process, awakens me and enlivens my imagination.
The first notes of the cello took me to Saint Andrews where the whale sleeps. I stood in the wampum waters, I walked the shore to the sounds of the violin. I walked gentle yet strong, my violin and I the walk-on figures in a painted landscape.
The subtle harmony of the harp landed me in the forest where I played as a child. The harp stirred that child, thrilled at the purity of leaves dancing with the wind and birds singing, jumping from branch to branch. Angels, like our eagles who fly-dance, joined in, leaving gifts of their feathers as reminders of the love that carries us.
Then poured out the thunder, the rumbling of roots, as in the orchestral horns, I hear the bear. My spirit heart awakens and I smile. The bear medicine travels all around us, protecting, giving strength, keeping us warm and fed. Through the orchestra, the bear medicine powers through me and I feel joy.
In the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, I hear and see our future leaders, carrying great gifts of musical speech, fluent in a language of emotion, healing, pride and unity.
The music created by these young musicians stirs my pride. These, my New Brunswick brothers and sisters inspire me, awaken me, and transport me through the landscapes of home.
The very beauty of the music reminds me to pause, and closely listen to what our surroundings are telling us. And those surroundings call in urgent unison for us to share our stories, because together We are Home.
- Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier)