Lifting Brenna Nanie

Artist of Impact, Environmentalist, Student, Entrepreneur


LIFTing Your Leadership - COHORT 2 (7)

Brenna Nanie (she/her)

Artist, Student, Entrepreneur, Cat Mom, Environmentalist, Story Writer, Aficionado of Heavy and Extreme Music


Brenna is an Indigenous woman, emerging entrepreneur, artist, environmentalist, and student at Toronto Metropolitan University.

As an artist, Brenna is expanding her artistic skills from painting to expressing her thoughts and feelings on environmental importance and what is happening in the world. This includes traditional beading and further exploration of public artistic avenues planned for the future.


Brenna knows the power of art and creates her art knowing that “artwork that has a message can influence people” and has immense value as “a different way of absorbing information for people.”


Her father’s influence has played a significant role in Brenna’s development as an artist, activist, and her interest in environmentalism. 


Brenna’s artistic outputs are influenced by her Indigenous culture, coming from a deep connection to her skills, her father’s influence, and “very big feelings [and] empathy for what other people are feeling. When it comes to my art, it's about reaching into myself and what I'm feeling, so to try and connect with other people who feel the same way.” By listening to herself, Brenna is allowing her voice to be heard through her art, connecting with others in the world who share similar feelings or thoughts, many of which have voices that haven’t been heard.

My art, it's about reaching into myself and [exploring] what I'm feeling and then bringing [that] out. So to try and connect with other people who feel the same way and empathize with them.”

-Brenna Nanie

Artist, Student, Entrepreneur


Brenna is a student and plans to build her business and pursue it full-time after graduating. She has a vision to create a business known as Miskwaabigwan Arts that encapsulates her creative endeavours.


As she continues to nurture her beading and artistic skills, Brenna plans to launch an online storefront to sell an ever growing output of artwork and beaded products, like earrings or cases for Airpods or lighters, and promote -and potentially consign - her work at an Indigenous shop in Toronto, Ontario, building her following from a d-i-y, grassroots level.


Brenna is the oldest of her parents' four children who live in the States while Brenna focuses on her studies at university in Toronto. She's a mom to to two of the sweetest things: her cats Luna and Ash and loves to spoil them.


Family and time with her family is something Brenna highly values, with her family locally in Toronto and throughout Turtle Island. "When everyone gets together, that’s the happiest I do feel….It’s chaotic and fun, so much laughter….like the Tradition of going to see my grandmother on Christmas, sitting by the fire, and getting cozy” are the times she values the most.


Brenna’s development as an artist and environmentalist has been deeply rooted and nourished from her childhood by her father, an artist, and environmentalist himself. While her painting comes from a deeply personal place, so too does her developing beading skills, helping her connect with the Indigenous community and her Indigenous culture.


She has experienced beading as a way to connect with herself and with her culture. She mentions that she “got back into beading over the Covid-19 pandemic” when she had a lot of time on her hands. She noted that being able to stay home and research other beadworker’s creations to see what they were doing, and ultimately connect with people, has been a real catalyst for her own work. 

I really value my time with my family; it's very important to me….I really value my family time as it helps to motivate me….I think the happiest I feel is when my family gets together. I value being able to surround myself with people I relate to and care about in nice,  happy atmospheres.

- Brenna Nanie

Artist, Student, Entrepreneur

Brenna's Impact Statement

As an artist and creator, Brenna is aware that she’s just starting out. “I’d like to make a bigger name for myself, so I can have more influence and impact on others, sharing my ideas and creations. I want to create artwork like murals and public art - something for everyone to see and witness. In turn, I’d like to be able to support myself and my family by doing something that feels important to me.”


She offers to us that art can be a way to say and understand things that are challenging to speak through words alone. Art is impactful, and can express stories in ways that connect us. Brenna hopes that her work can bring people together to ignite change for the better. 


For Brenna, connection is the impact, be it through beading, visual arts, storytelling, music or being with family. Her main agenda is to help bring people together and connect for a better tomorrow, and all of it is part of a desired experience for all of us to feel at home.  

Witness, to me, is to really take in - almost…shock you into thinking, like I'm witnessing this moment,  witnessing this art piece and it deeply affects us.”

- Brenna Nanie

Artist, Student, Entrepreneur

What's Next for Brenna?

As Brenna continues her education, she plans on developing her artistic skills and talents in beadwork and painting. While her business will begin with Brenna’s beading and artwork becoming more of a full-time pursuit, there's room for her to nurture and develop other artistic avenues - like murals and public art installations - to join the two sides of the business she is developing and soon-to-be launching.


Brenna shares with us that next for her looks like:  “When it comes to my artwork, definitely self-discovery, growing, changing, and improving as an artist; educating myself and stay up to date the best I can on the world's issues because that is definitely a motivation for my art.”

Vanessa (2)

"Brenna exudes quiet confidence as an artist and creative. When we support emerging Indigenous artists like Brenna, not only are we supporting an artist, their family and their community to thrive, but it is supporting generations upon generations of ancestral artistry that was almost suppressed to complete erasure. Brenna’s art is resistance, reconciliation and relational all in one."  - Vanessa Lesperance, LIFT Circle Lead

The LIFTing Your Leadership program brings together a cohort of 12 entrepreneurs for a combination of business development activities and relational resources co-created by The Indigenous LIFT Collective and co-facilitated by guest Indigenous Aunties bi-weekly. 

These stories have been crafted in co-creation with the entrepreneur via the Amplify program which provides a combination of listening sessions and story coaching to create a digital profile for each cohort member. The Amplify portion of the project ensures Indigenous peoples and their perspectives are celebrated, seen and heard. 

 reGEN media will be creating a six-minute documentary to showcase hope, possibility, and the potential of collaborative partnerships to contribute towards Economic Reconciliation.

The co-creation of this impact initiative in its entirety is supported and made possible with our funding partners, Sunshine Coast Insurance Services Inc. and the Sunshine Coast Credit Union with the support of the Co-operators Advisor Community Fund. The Co-operators Advisor Community Fund supplements Financial Advisors’ donations to their community to help address unmet social, economic, and environmental needs, and build resilient communities for Canadians.



“My Indigenous culture…really influences how I think and feel about the world. Nature is important. It's meant to be something cared for, looked after, and communicated with. That's what I've been taught growing up. And it definitely plays a huge part in what I want to express with my artwork.”