NBCCD Alumna Samaqani Cocahq: Sharing the Teachings of her Ancestors


We tend to doubt our abilities to do the things we have never tried before. We intuitively gravitate toward the safe and familiar, the sure and reliable. We put projects on hold until some future moment when we will be better equipped, more knowledgeable, ready.

Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) has burned her doubts in a fire of artistic creation. Whether it is her traditional Indigenous teachings that drive her, or a confidence borne of diverse training in art & design, she uses the combined forces of her past experiences to fuel a seemingly infinite variety of culturally powerful projects.

“I see a lot of people who are scared of opening themselves up,” says Samaqani. “Of being awake and being aware and not afraid to listen to what is speaking through them and doing what they truly want to do in life. It makes sense that I’m an artist. I was born to be an artist, to be a storyteller. I always had a wild imagination and was seeing stories in everything, but when life became difficult, some ways of how I used to express myself through creativity started sleeping, but also new ways of expressing awakened.”

She did not let her creativity sleep forever. Consider, Samaqani graduated in 2005 from what was then the Diploma in Surface Design – now called the Diploma in Textile Design with a major in Print. In the time since, she has designed the aesthetic features of a health centre, created and sold innumerable paintings in her signature style, graduated from NBCCD’s Advanced Studio Practice, illustrated a children’s book, written music in collaboration with musician Nate Miller, taken part in artist residencies, spent three years improving access for First Nations artists as the Aboriginal Outreach Officer for artsnb, and so much more.

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