Mitchell ‘Mitchi’ Saunders

Sewing Your Heart Back Together

WHEAT Institute graduate, Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Diploma

Meet Mitchi...

Chief of my Own Mind, Two-Spirited Expressive Arts Educator, Healer, Member of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), LGBTQIA2S Mobile Crisis Response Team, and WHEAT Institute graduate, Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Diploma

“Expressive Art gives you an ability to explore new horizons you didn’t know were there but have been with you the whole time.”

- Mitchell 'Mitchi' Saunders





Mitchell is a recent graduate from the WHEAT Institute. He is a Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) LGBTQIA2S Mobile Crisis Response Team member. He travels through Manitoba, visiting reserves in response to people in need of healing from traumas such as grief, loss or violence.

He was born into a large family of 12 siblings, whom he adores, and spent his childhood years in Cross Lake and his high school years in Thompson. He came out as two-spirited while living in Thompson. A target for bullying, Mitchell approached the head of the school to start a Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) for students. He received 1000 student signatures in support of his initiative. After graduation, he moved to Winnipeg, where he began to follow his passion for creativity, care and community. 

Before attending WHEAT he did some research, looking for 2Spirit Expressive Arts Therapists and when he discovered there were none, he was heartbroken by the lack of support for 2Spirited people and decided, “I’m going to use my voice. I’m going to set an example for what art can do to help 2Spirited people in their healing process”


“WHEAT helped me realize my potential as an educator and healer by teaching me how to let emotions and my expression come forth.” 


Welcoming Wheat (1)

A profound memory is sewing my ribbon skirt under the guidance of Lita Fontaine. Linda described the process as “sewing your heart back together again.” My mother, whom I dearly love, gave me her sewing machine. I used colours for the skirt gifted to me at Sundance by elders. The creative process was part of reconnecting to my Indigenous culture and calming my mind, as it is crucial to create your ribbon skirt when your mind is at peace, as bad thoughts reflect in the sewing.”

To present his ribbon skirt to his classmate, Mitchell used the metaphor of unmasking. He covered his ribbon skirt with an oversized hoody and slowly revealed his creation. “I have never felt more beautiful nor closer to my ancestors and Indigenous culture,” says Mitchell of that moment.


“Expressive Art is a process that helps people to heal without using words. Words are sometimes hard to find. Small changes can happen through painting, dancing or using any of the multiple art forms. It becomes a gateway to self-identity and self-realization. It is this gift that I will pass on to others as a two-spirited Expressive Arts teacher and healer.”


“Art is everywhere. A small circle on a big piece of paper may represent feeling small in this world. Maybe you just feel alone. You give the image meaning and connection. To me, that is art”, says Mitchell.



“My first class helped me say I have intergenerational trauma. My instructor (Whiskey Jack) helped me realize that it’s not just me who is angry, it’s my blood, my ancestors, and that helped me change by wanting to know more about myself and my culture.”




“Winnipeg is located within Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinabe (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene, and Dakota, and is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation and the Heart of the Métis Nation Homeland.” 

Mitchell’s grandmother is a residential school survivor. Although fluent in her native language, the residential school doctrine instilled in her a fear of anything indigenous. Mitchell is grateful to his mother for always believing in him and consistently steering the family back to their indigenous roots.

Mitchell has attended the Sundance with his mother and experienced many ceremonies he found deeply moving. As a result, he feels more connected to himself and his creator. His purpose is to break the cycle of his grandmother's colonial past and lead others, like himself, to their authentic roots and sense of self. His vision is to create a ribbon skirt workshop where two-spirited people can come to sew their hearts back together.