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With artist Hazel Bell-Koski

Her first language is colour

Shamanic Painting, Cultural Connections - Hazel Bell-Koski & Dalva Lamminmäki in conversation 

21.12.2013 Toronto, Canada

Video by Greg Macdougall,

Hazel Bell-Koski, is a self-directed, steadfast woman of mixed Anishinabeg, Finnish, Irish, and English heritage. She holds a BFA in Film Studies from Ryerson University and has maintained a multi-disciplinary arts practice for over twenty years, including public exhibits, facilitation of inter-generational community storytelling and art-making circles, and professional experience as an multi-disciplinary artist, creative facilitator, and event coordinator.

She has extensive experience in working with diverse intergenerational communities. Giving her the capacity and awareness required to create and hold spaces of belonging and safety for groups of people, inviting at levels of creative confidence into a creative process.

Past partners include such organizations as the Toronto District School Board, Sketch Working Arts for Street Youth, Transformative Learning Centre at the University of Toronto, Toronto Public Libraries, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Rainforest Action Network, Green Peace, Grassy Narrows First Nation, Power of Hope, IndigenEYEZ, PORAMOR, and ALIVE in connection with Reconciliation in Action.

This is a short film about my art practice and my desire to walk on the bones of my Finnish ancestors. I have always been called to create, to share and connect. Throughout the past 15 years I have been engaged in an exploration of colour and community.


Dalva and Hazel on the top of Koli, May 2019

The depth of the connection and intensity of the understanding. Together in Finland, May 2019, on the top of Koli, North Karelia. These are the lands of rune singers and Kalevala poetry. We did have a ceremony for the place that it is known as  bear worship place. 

Koli hills as Mustarinda or Black Hills. This name can be found on maps from as early as 1650 . Mustarinta derives from an old Baltic-Finn word mustarinta meaning “bear” and “hill of spirits”. 

The earliest inhabitants came to the Koli region sometime during the Pre-Ceramic Era, between 7000 and 4200 B.C. These people were primarily ancient northern huntergatherers (“proto-Finns”) but they also used fire in their thriving. The next group that inhabited the region surrounding Koli was the Sami people. There is much evidence to support the fact that the Lake-Sami people were active in this area prior to the Finns. 

The early Finns were a nature worshipping Pagan culture. The wilderness provided for all of their needs. In exchange for the provisions the Finns made gods out of the wilderness. Ancestral worship, and the holy mountain of Koli came to the forefront of religious life in Karelia.

"I express my love and knowing through colour, images, painting, silk screening, alter building, spirit flag making, talking story, sitting in circle, listening, observing, and being
i am an artist, storyteller, educator, and arts based facilitator 

let's celebrate together 
and become mature human beings within the cosmic story
a new earth IS possible 
if we all agree to cultivate our own particular gifts and 
make compassionate and life affirming decisions 
we were designed for this 
all of the tools we need are within 
all of our middle names are courage 

in deep gratitude and respect,  
celebration and creation,
light and love, 
hazel "

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