Odjig Arts provides accurate information on artist Daphne Odjig, internationally recognized and renowned for her contribution to the First Nations art community in North America and to the broader arts world.


Daphne Odjig 2008
Artist Profile


“If my work as an artist has somehow helped to open doors between our people and the non-native community, then I am glad. I am even more deeply pleased if it has helped to encourage the young people that have followed our generation, to express their pride in our heritage more openly, more joyfully than I would have ever dared to think possible.”

Odjig: the art of Daphne Odjig, p. 78

Download Curriculum Vitae
(PDF 83 kb)

Download Chronology
(PDF 79 kb)



C.M.,  O.B.C.,  R.C.A.,  L.L.B.
Governor General’s Laureate, Visual & Media Arts 2007

Daphne Odjig is a Canadian artist of Aboriginal ancestry. She was born September 11,1919 and raised on the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island (Lake Huron), Ontario. Daphne Odjig is the daughter of Dominic Odjig and Joyce Peachey. Her father and her grandfather, Chief Jonas Odjig, were Potawatomi, descended from the great chief Black Partridge. Her mother was an English war bride. The Odjig family was among the Potawatomi who migrated north and settled in Wikwemikong after the War of 1812. The Potawatomi (Keepers of the Fire) were members with the Ojibwa and Odawa, of the Three Fires Confederacy of the Great Lakes.

Daphne passed away in Kelowna, BC at age 97 on October 1, 2016.

Art Media:
Oils,  Acrylics,  Silkscreen Prints,  Murals,  Pen and Ink,  Pastels,  Watercolours,  Coloured Pencils

Recent and Upcoming Exhibitions:
Daphne Odjig: Four Decades of Prints
Touring exhibition of limited edition prints organized by the Kamloops Art Gallery
- Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops BC, June 8 – Aug 31, 2005
- Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg MN, April 22 – July 16, 2006
- Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa January 18 – April 20, 2008

The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition
Touring exhibition organized by Art Gallery of Sudbury and National Gallery of Canada
- Art Gallery of Sudbury, Sudbury ON September 15 – November 11, 2007
- Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops BC  June 8 – August 31, 2008
- McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg ON  Oct. 4 , 2008 – Jan 4, 2009
- Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe NM, June 26 – Sept. 20, 2009
- National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa October 23, 2009 – January 3,  2010
- McKenzie Art Gallery, Regina SK, February 6 – May 15, 2010

Exhibitions organized by private galleries:
- Gallery Phillip, Toronto ON  20.10.07 (retrospective prints & paintings)  www.gevik.com
- Hampton Gallery, Kamloops BC  08.06.08 (new drawings)  www.hamptongalleries.com
- Hambleton Gallery, Kelowna BC 21.03 – 06.04.09 (early works & new drawings)  www.hambletongalleries.com

ReferenceThe Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition  by Bonnie Devine. Published by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Sudbury, 2007. For full list of exhibitions prior to 2007, please see p.p. 133-136. For list of works in major Collections, see  p. 142. For Selected Bibliography, see p. 143. For Chronology of Daphne Odjig’s life  up to 2007, please see excerpt from p.p. 137 – 141 (attachment #1 to curriculum vitae).

Awards, Honours and Credits:
Visual Arts:
1963  Member of the British Columbia Federation of Artists
1971  Arts Grant for tour and exhibition of Paintings at the Smotra Folklore  Festival, Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
1973  Swedish Brucebo Foundation Scolarship and resident Artist at the Foundation Studio, Visby, Island of Gotland, Sweden
1973  Manitoba Arts Council Bursary
1989  Elected Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art ( R.C.A.)
1993  Presented Eagle Feather by SCANA (Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry) at the 5th National Native Symposium, Halifax NS
2002  Canada Post – Genesis  Christmas Stamp
2007  Governor General’s Laureate, Visual & Media Arts. This award is Canada’s highest honour in the field of Visual Arts.

1982  Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, conferred by Laurentian University, Sudbury ON
1985  Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, conferred by the University of Toronto, Toronto ON
1993  Doctor of Education, honoris causa, conferred by Nipissing University, North Bay, ON
2002  Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, conferred by Okanagan University College, Kelowna, BC, 08.06.02
2007  Doctor of Letters, honoris causa conferred by Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC (8.06.07)
2008  Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa conferred by The Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto (23.05.08)
2008  Doctor of Laws, honoris causa conferred by the University of Western Ontario, London Ontario (12.06.08)

Leadership and Service:
1977  Canada Silver Jubilee Medal
1978  Presented Eagle Feather by Chief Wakageshig on behalf of the Wikwemikong Unceded IndianReserve in recognition of Artistic Accomplishment, an honour previously reserved for men to acknowledge prowess in hunting or war.
1986  Appointed to the Order of Canada, C.M.
1988–93 Honorary Board Member of the Canada Heritage Foundation
1992   Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada
1993   Presented Certificate of Honour by the En’Owkin Centre and Canada’s Drug Strategy Program, Penticton, BC
1996  Honorary Patron of the Ojibway Cultural Foundation capital campaign,  West Bay, ON
1998  National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Toronto, Ontario
2002  Queen Elizabeth II - Commemorative Golden Jubilee Medal
2003  Expression Award – National Film Board of Canada in recognition of work that champions Canadian cultural diversity.
2004  The Art Show , a play about Daphne Odjig’s life and art by Alanis King, produced by Native Earth Performing Arts, premiers inToronto, ON
2007  Catalogue forThe Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition published in Ojibwe as well as English and French,  the first time the National Gallery of Canada has published a catalogue in a First Nations language.
2007  Appointed to the Order of British Columbia, Victoria BC  (14.06.07)
2007  Crowfoot Mountain Expedition organized in Odjig’s honour (29.07.07)
2008  Lifetime Achievement Award, Okanagan Arts Awards (15.02.08)
2008  Honourary Fellowship, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Calgary AB (26.06.08)

Related Professional Activities:
1970  Odjig Indian Prints of Canada Ltd:  Founder, President
1971  Arts Instructor at Manitou Arts Foundation, Schreiber Island, Ontario
1973  Co-Founder of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (often referred to as the  “Indian Group of Seven” Daphne Odjig, Norval Morriseau, Alex Janvier,  Joseph Sanchez, Jackson Beardy, Eddie Cobiness and Carl Ray)
1974  New Warehouse Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Owner and manager.
1986  Board Member, Canadian Native Arts Foundation (established  by John Kim Bell)
1993  Keynote Speaker, The B.C. Art Teachers’37th Annual Conference, “Art Reflecting Cultures”,  Kelowna BC
1993  Lansdowne Scholar & Discourse, “Arts in Education” The Lansdowne Lectures, University of Victoria, BC
1993  Opened Retrospective Exhibition of the late Jackson Beardy:
“Jackson Beardy, A Life’s Work”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg MN
1995  Advisory Committee Member,  Canadian National Committee for Jerusalem 3000
1995  Juror , visual arts collection, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa,ON
1996  Juror , Canadian Native Arts Foundation  (grants & scholarships). Toronto ON
1996  Guest Speaker, 20th Anniversary Celebration, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, ON
1997  Juror, Okanagan Mainline Regional Council, Kelowna BC
1998  Guest Speaker, Graduation Ceremony Wasse Abin H. S., Wikwemikong, ON

Films and Documentaries:
1973  Colours of Pride, National Film Board of Canada
1976  Three Artists, Three Styles, Henning Jacobson Productions
1981  Spirits Speaking Through, Spectrum CBC Canada
1989  Window on Canada: Daphne Odjig/Painter, Tokyo Television
1998   National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, CBC
2003  Xpression Awards,  National Film Board of Canada
2003  The Life and Work of the Woodland Artists,  First Voice Multimedia Inc.
Executive Producer, Dr. Raoul McKay
2008  The Life and Work of Daphne Odjig , First Voice Multimedia Inc.
Executive Producer, Dr. Raoul McKay
2008  Lunch With Daphne Odjig on Crowfoot Mountain,  First Voice Multimedia Inc.
Executive Producer, Dr. Raoul McKay


Chronology of Daphne Odjig’s life: Attachment #1 
Excerpt p.p. 137 – 141 
The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig: A Retrospective Exhibition   by Bonnie Devine   Published by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Sudbury, 2007

1919 Born 11 September at Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, the first of four children, to Dominic Odjig and his English war bride Joyce Peachy. Odjig’s widowed grandfather, Jonas Odjig, lives with the family in the house he had built a generation earlier and which still stands in Wikwemikong today.

The family is industrious and relatively prosperous by reserve standards. Jonas Odjig is a carver of monuments and tombstones; Dominic is the village constable. The family also farms their land, raises cows, pigs, and chickens and owns a team of horses.

1925 Begins school at Jesuit Mission in Wikwemikong. An avid student, she turns the family’s pig house into a play school where she teaches local children to read and count. When they tire of her instruction she converts the play school into a play church and hears their confessions. The family is musical. Daphne plays the guitar; Dominic the violin. They all enjoy sing-a-longs and music nights listening to a hand-cranked phonograph. She develops a life-long love of opera singing.

She is athletic and participates in the annual fall fairs at Manitowaning, the nearest off-reserve town, eight miles away, taking prizes in running and public speaking. Art is her favourite subject and she develops the habit of sketching with her grandfather and father, both of whom are artistic. She also helps her mother with needlework designs for the church linens.

1932 Contracts rheumatic fever.  Her formal education ends following grade seven. Confined to bed for six months and infirm for the following three years.

1938 Mother and grandfather die within weeks of each other.

Maternal grandmother removes the four Odjig children to her home in Perry Sound, Ontario. Here Odjig encounters systemic racism for the first time when she is refused work because of her Native appearance and name. She and her siblings adopt the surname Fisher. Her two brothers still go by that name.

1942 Moves to Toronto with her sister Winnifred (Winnie). Works at the John Inglis Munitions, Planters Peanuts and Dr. Ballards dog food factories. Attends dances in the evening at the Palais Royale with Winnie. Briefly considers a career as a flamenco dancer. Frequents the gallery at the Eaton’s College Street store, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) and “discovers” painting. Over the next decade she teaches herself by trial and error to paint.

1945 Moves to British Columbia to marry Paul Somerville, a Mohawk/Metis Second World War veteran she met in Toronto. Becomes stepmother to Paul’s eight-year-old son, David.

1946 The family moves to Coquitlam, British Columbia.

1948 Son Stanley Somerville is born. Continues her art explorations, experimenting in oils on homemade stretchers and recycled tent canvas. Influenced by Cornelius Krieghoff, she paints naturalistic landscapes.

1950 Discovers Picasso. Dissatisfied with the confines of Realism, begins experimenting with Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, carefully analyzing and copying  Picasso’s style and the techniques of American and European Modernists in books and magazines.

1955 Family moves to Lindell Beach on Cultus Lake, British Columbia.

1958 Family purchases thirty-acre farm at Columbia Valley near Cultus Lake with a plan to grow strawberries.

1960 Paul Somerville dies of injuries sustained in a car accident just before harvest of first test crop. Later this year she plants their acreage as planned.

1961 Farm yields five and a half tons of strawberries in the spring. She spends the summer tending the farm. In the winter she focuses on painting. Begins period of intense artistic experimentation. She learns by copying works in books borrowed from the library and visits the Vancouver Art Gallery to study painting techniques up close. Influenced by the Impressionists, Daphne experiments with light effects, broken brush strokes and Cloisonnism.

1962 Sister Winnie enters Theatre Queue (cat. 45) in a juried competition. On the strength of this painting Daphne is elected a Member of the British Columbia Federation of Artists the following year. Marries Chester Beavon, a friend and co-worker of her late husband Paul. Moves to the city of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Beavon applies for work as a community development officer in northern Manitoba.

1964 Attends the 4th annual Wikwemikong Pow Wow. With sister-in-law Rosemary Peltier-Fisher, she meets the elder ladies of the community, who recount the old Nanabush tales. Rosemary suggests that Daphne paint the legends to help the revival of the culture.

Hangs an exhibition of Native art at the Wiki Pow Wow with Tom Peltier, which is seen by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and later purchased in its entirety by the Federal Department of Cultural Affairs.

Beavon is posted to Grand Rapids, Manitoba.

1966 Couple is assigned to Easterville, Northern Manitoba a small community of Chemahawin Cree who were displaced when the dam at Grand Rapids went into operation. Records their hardship and endurance in a series of pen and ink drawings depicting the people and their day-to-day activities. Begins work on the legend paintings suggested by Rosemary Peltier. Makes her first sale to Gary Scherbain, a visiting civil servant who begins to sell her work out of his home in Winnipeg. Introduced to the work of Norval Morrisseau. His strong formline has an immediate but ultimately temporary influence on her calligraphic line.

1967 First public solo exhibition. Organized by Susan Ross at the Lakehead Art Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Seventy-eight drawings, pastels and acrylics.

1968 Commissioned by Dr. Herbert Schwarz to paint a series of erotic illustrations for his book Tales From the Smokehouse (cats. 31 to 36). Solo exhibition in Brandon, Manitoba sponsored by the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood and mounted by Bernard Polly, an art instructor at Brandon University. Learns collage techniques from Polly and begins a series of mixed media collages incorporating  natural materials. A looser, expressionistic style begins to emerge.

1970 Exhibits commissioned work Earth Mother (cat. 8) at Canadian Pavilion, Expo 70, Osaka, Japan.
Begins reproducing Easterville ink drawings. Establishes Odjig Indian Prints of Canada.

1971 Learns how to scale-up drawings for transfer to large murals from Bernard Polly.  Creates mural, The Great Flood,  at Peguis High School, Peguis Reserve, Hodgson, Manitoba.

Opens a small craft store at 331 Donald Street in Winnipeg. Distributes reproduction prints of the Easterville drawings in unlimited editions to a growing market. Tour and exhibition of her paintings at the Smotra Folklore Festival in Yugoslavia. The paintings are lost en route. Teaches at Manitou Art Foundation, Schreiber Island.

Nanabush Tales is published by Ginn and Company.  The ten-book series of children’s readers is dedicated to Rosemary Peltier, who died before she could see them published.

On a visit to Wikwemikong she learns about her Potawatomi roots and her ancestor Black Partridge from her Aunt Grace (cat. 3).

1972 Commissioned by the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, Winnipeg, to create mural The Creation of the World in Commemoration of the Manitoba Centennial.

1973 Co-founds Professional Indian Artists Inc. (the Indian Group of Seven). Awarded Swedish Brucebo Foundation Scholarship, travels as resident artist to the Foundation Studio, Visby Island  of Gotland, Sweden. Awarded Manitoba Arts Council Bursary. Commissioned by the Royal Ontario Museum to create From Mother Earth Flows the River of Life for exhibition Canadian Indian Art’74. Documentary: Colours of Pride  (National Film Board, Canada).

1974 Tales From the Smokehouse published. Expands craft shop to establish New Warehouse Gallery, first Native-run gallery in Canada. Commissioned by Dr. William Taylor to produce the “biggest damned painting you can do.”

1975 Travels to Israel at invitation of El Al (Israel Airlines) to tour and paint her interpretation of Jerusalem. Produces The Jerusalem Series of Paintings and Prints.

1976 Leaves Winnipeg for British Columbia. (Anglemont on Lake Shuswap).

Sells New Warehouse Gallery to Gary Scherbain, it is renamed Wah-sa Gallery.

Documentary: Three Artists, Three Styles, Spectrum, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada.

1977 Awarded Canadian Silver Jubilee Medal

1978 Attends first National Native Artists’ Conference at the Ojibwe Cultural Centre on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Presented Eagle Feather by Chief Wakageshig on behalf of the Wikwemikong Reserve, in recognition of artistic achievement, an honour previously reserved for men to acknowledge prowess in the hunt or in war. Completes The Indian in Transition,  commissioned by Dr. William Taylor for the National Museum of Man in 1974. Masterpiece installed in the National Arts Centre, Ottawa on extended loan.

1979 Commissioned by the McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, for painting Rebirth of a Culture.

1981 Documentary: Spirits Speaking Through,  Spectrum, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

1982 Doctor of Letters, honoris causa,  conferred by Laurentian University, Sudbury Ontario.

1983 Second National Native Artists’ Conference held at K’san, British Columbia. Learns monoprintmaking technique from Joseph Sanchez (original member of the Indian Group of Seven) during a visit to Arizona.

1984 Commissioned by Laurentian University Museum and Art Centre, Sudbury, Ontario for painting Spiritual Renewal.

1985 First Retrospective Exhibition, Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre and Centre for Indian Art. Doctor of Laws, honoris causa,  conferred by University of Toronto, Ontario

1986 Commissioned by Glenview Corporation, Ottawa, Ontario for works Tomorrow Will Hold Our Past and We Dance Through Time.

Selected as one of four international artists to paint an homage to Pablo Picasso for the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France. Appointed to the Order of Canada C.M.

1988-93 Honourary Board Member of the Canadian Heritage Foundation.

1989 Elected Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (R.C.A.)

Documentary: Window on Canada, Daphne Odjig  /Painter Tokyo Television, Japan.

1992 Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

A Paintbrush In My Hand, Daphne Odjig published by Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc.

1993 Presented Eagle Feather by SCANA (Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry) at the National Native Symposium, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

1994 Presented Certificate of Honour by the En’Owkin Centre (Penticton, British Columbia) and Canada’s Drug Strategy Program.

1996 Doctor of Education, honoris causa, conferred by Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario.

Honourary Patron of the Ojibway Cultural Foundation Capital Campaign, West Bay, Ontario. Included in Kamloops Art Gallery’s limited edition print portfolio, Collecting Canadian Art.

1998 National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Toronto, Ontario.

1999 Moves with Chester Beavon from the Shuswap to Penticton, British Columbia.

2001 Odjig: The Art of Daphne Odjig published by Key Porter Books Ltd. Toronto ON Published limited edition prints of And Some watched the Sunset, Ted Haworth, printer.

2002 Doctor of Letters, conferred by Okanagan University College, Kelowna, British Columbia. Receives Commemorative Golden Jubilee Medal (Queen Elizabeth II )

Genesis, Canadian Christmas Stamp

2003 Receives Xpression Award, initiative of the National Film Board of Canada, Ottawa, for championing cultural diversity. Documentary: Life and Work of Woodland Artists. First Voice Multimedia Inc.

2004 The Art Show a play about her life and art by Alanis King, produced by Native Earth Performing Arts, premiers in Toronto ON Published limited edition prints of In Tune With the Infinite,  Steve Mennie, printer Salmon Arm BC

2005 Forty Years of Prints, exhibition of her limited edition prints, Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops BC

2007 Receives Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts

Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, conferred by Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops BC Appointed to the Order of British Columbia.

The Drawings and Paintings of Daphne Odjig, A retrospective Exhibition, organized by the Art Gallery of Sudbury and the National Gallery of Canada

2016 Passes away in Kelowna, BC age 97, on October 1, 2016


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