Meet Lana Whiskeyjack



Meet Lana Whiskeyjack, a multidisciplinary treaty nêhiyaw (Cree) scholartist from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, who now calls amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton) her home. As an associate professor in the department of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta, Lana's academic work is complemented by her role as co-owner and curator of Whiskeyjack Art House. Her art is a powerful reflection of her cultural heritage, lived experiences, and advocacy for Indigenous representation and rights. Through her work, Lana challenges societal narratives and captivates audiences. Recently, Lana shared with us her connection to Edmonton and its significance in her artistic journey.

Q: What is your Edmonton story?

Lana: I see myself as more of a “person of this land”. I started university here, started my profession, and I met my husband. I moved away but ended up coming back. amiskwacîwâskahikan is the city I chose to move to because of the inclusive efforts to make this world a better place. Again, I can not stress enough the powerful heartwork of the many amiskwacîwâskahikan kin.

Q: How did you get started as an artist?

Lana: Art was always part of our communication at home. Visual literacy is important in Indigenous communities. After art school, I lost the desire to create. But after doing my doctorate courses (In 2017, Lana completed her iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskêyihtamowin doctoral program (ipkDoc) at University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistamêyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ), a former Indian Residential School attended by two generations of her family), I became inspired. I started creating again as a way of processing intergenerational trauma through art.


Q: How would you describe Edmonton to people who have never been here or heard of it?

Lana: I love Edmonton because of its creative communities and social innovation around being good relatives of this land. We have educated and informed leadership here. The Cree name for Edmonton is amiskwacîwâskahikan (Beaver Hills House). amiskwak (beavers) are builders, they are water protectors and value family that includes the plants, water, and water beings. Edmontonians are builders and I have met many iniwak (beings of this land) and creative change makers that call amiskwacîwâskahikan their home and contribute greatly to building this city into a beautiful community that respects the land, water and human relatives.

Community organizations like Beaver Hills Biosphere, who help with land sharing programs between non-Indigenous land owners with Indigenous families within the city, Bear Clan Beavers Hills House, a community patrol group that provides a sense of safety, solidarity and belonging to our houseless relations and the Water Warriors Yeg, a group of inclusive volunteers that bring water, food and supplies to the houseless kin. There are so many amazing community kin that I cannot name all in this short answer. They genuinely support from their heARTS with their songs, arts, businesses, programs, prayers, and love.


“The people with good hearts, minds and spirits surrounded by a little chaos are the reason this city is a hub of creativity and social innovation.”


Q: What do you hope settlers can learn from Indigenous teachings to better understand the land upon which we reside?

Lana: I want Edmontonians to learn to be anti-oppressive and anti-racist. To understand the colonization impacts on Indigenous peoples with the empathy of understanding. Newcomers need to know about that history too.


Q: If you’re willing to share, I know through your art and your work, you’ve tackled addressing some of the uglier parts of our nation’s history. What’s your philosophy when it comes to approaching that?

Lana: I begin with centring spirit within ceremony, guided by some amazing matriarchs, Elders and knowledge keepers/share-ers. Kinship is foundational in our Indigenous ways of knowing and being, within our language all life is related, we are interconnected and whatever we say and do impacts the web of our relatives, including our more than human kin. nîya ayisiyiniw ôma ohci asiskiy translates to I am a human of this earth, which means I have an inherent responsibility to walk with the laws of this land, truth, sharing, kindness and courage. In order to share truth of the past to the present, I need courage to acknowledge the trauma but also the strength we iniwak endured, which I hope is reciprocated by our non-Indigenous kin. 

I give gratitude to the many incredible courageous and kind leaders within amiskwacîwâskahikan who continue to work with our Indigenous communities, ways of knowing and being, to help provide opportunities to address historical harms, nurture spirit, create inclusive kind spaces and open spaces for our youth to thrive. I sakwe you!

Lana’s three words to describe Edmonton are builders, innovators and creators.


Lana is part of our Why Edmonton video series, profiling the amazing people who call and make Edmonton home. Learn more about her story:


Locations in video: Thunderbird House at Stanley A Milner Library, ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park

Want to learn more about Lana?



Want more of our Our Why Edmonton series?! Meet: 

  • Hero Laird, a law student and research assistant who accidentally fell in love with Edmonton.

  • Andrew Parker, basketball coach, educator and community builder who wants people to choose Edmonton and experience the care we have for one another.

  • Danny Ross, an active participant in the arts and culture scene, who wants to share Edmonton’s unique point of view with the world.

  • Erick Estrada appreciates Edmonton’s small town vibes packed into a big city with opportunities.

  • Gurleen Kuar Bhandohal, a student and nature lover, who sees big things for our city’s evolution.

  • Olya Leshcheva knows our city’s atmosphere of understanding and acceptance helps newcomers feel welcome.

  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi who first came to Canada at 18, and through the support of a city, is now the mayor.