The Artist-in-Residence Program

The Camp fYrefly Artist-in-Residence Program hosts emerging and established regional and national contemporary artists who have demonstrated a commitment to innovation, exploration, community outreach, and the public understanding of sex, sexual, and gender differences.

Artists-in-Residence are drawn from all disciplines, including painting, print making, sculpture, photography, video, music, literature, dance, conceptual and installation art, and contemporary performance. Working collaboratively with our team of adult mentors, artists help to introduce new techniques, materials, and ideas designed to help youth to grow individually and to transform their communities.

The Camp fYrefly Artist-in-Residence program is committed to strengthening the vitality of the arts and the powerful role they can play in public education and the pursuit of human rights and social justice for all youth.

Our Artists-in-Residence:

2015 - Rae Spoon (Calgary)
2015 - Nikki Shaffeeullah
2014 - Kate Reid (Calgary)
2014 - Ainsley Hillyard
2013 - Antyx (Calgary)
2013 - Vivek Shraya
2012 - Kate Reid
2011 - Spencer J. Harrison
2010 - Brian Webb
2009 - Anthea Black
2008 - Ivan Coyote

If you would like to nominate a potential Artist-in-Residence for a future Camp, we welcome your suggestions and encourage you to contact the Camp Coordinator in Calgary or Edmonton.

Rae Spoon

Calgary’s Rae Spoon is a songwriter, film score composer, music producer, multi-instrumentalist and published author. They have a voice that will stop you in your tracks and a story like no other. Rae started out making folk music, and later added indie-rock, experimental and electronic elements to their sound. The result is strong songwriting with unique instrumentation. They have toured extensively in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. Rae has been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in both 2009 and 2014, as well as for the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards. They won the Galaxy Rising Star Award in 2004.

Rae is the subject of the National Film Board musical-documentary My Prairie Home, with their 2013 album of the same name serving as the score and soundtrack to the film. Directed by Chelsea McMullan, this documentary about growing up and surviving in an evangelical Christian family premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival and was released theatrically in Canada in 2014. The film was an official selection for Sundance 2014, won Best Documentary from the Vancouver Critics Circle and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Documentary.

Rae’s first book, First Spring Grass Fire, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in September 2012. The book was a finalist for a Lambda Award in the Transgender Fiction category and was shortlisted for an Expozine Alternative Press Award. In the spring of 2014, Rae was awarded an Honour of Distinction by the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Rae’s second book, co-written with Ivan E. Coyote and titled Gender Failure, was published in April 2014.


Nikki Shaffeeullah

Nikki Shaffeeullah is a theatre facilitator, performer, director and researcher who has led community-engaged artistic projects across Canada and internationally. She is Artistic Director of the Toronto-based arts education company The AMY Project, and is Editor-in-Chief of, Canada’s only journal examining the intersections between politics, cultural plurality, social activism, and the stage. She holds a BA from McGill University and an MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta, and has has studied with prominent socially-engaged theatre companies including Peru’s Teatro Yuyachkani, the Makhampom Foundation in Thailand, and the Belarus Free Theatre. Having spent a few years as an Edmontonian, Nikki is thrilled to return to serve as Camp fYrefly's 2015 Artist-in-Residence. Her work in the city has included teaching performance at the University of Alberta Department of Drama, founding and directing the artist-activist collective Undercurrent Theatre, regularly improvising with Rapid Fire Theatre, and collaborating with diverse artistic companies including as Concrete Theatre, Queer Royale, the GeriActors and Friends, the Arts-Based Research Studio, and others. Nikki’s work in theatre-based creation, performance, research, and activism has been recognized several times, such as with the 2013 Canadian Association for Theatre Research award in Intercultural Theatre, a 2013 Nextfest Emerging Artist Award, and as one of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 Under 30.

Kate Reid

Kate Reid is a professional queer-musical-activist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. With rapid-fire wit, an honest and often irreverent delivery, Kate is a guitar-playing, harmonica-slinging, singer-songwriter and bona-fide storyteller. Known for her self-deprecating and tongue-in-cheek humour, Kate’s songs brim with socio-political and personal commentary: her passion is music with a message. Her critically acclaimed work as artist includes four independently-released albums: Comin’ Alive (2006), I'm Just Warming Up (2009), Doing it for the Chicks (2011), and Queer Across Canada (2013), which is a collection of songs that Kate wrote and recorded based on interviews she conducted with LGBTQ families. She is currently developing the Queer Across Canada Musical Education Kit which is a curriculum designed for the elementary and secondary level that links the songs of Queer Across Canada to lessons and activities which focus on encouraging students to think critically about heteronormativity, and to challenge homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism while celebrating diversity and encouraging acceptance of diverse families and communities.

Kate possesses a Bachelor of Education from University of British Columbia (UBC) and is currently working on her Master’s in Arts at UBC where she is researching the intersections of folk music, queer activism and critical pedagogy. She combines musical activism with teaching by facilitating workshops and giving concerts at the upper elementary, secondary and post-secondary level. Kate also tours across Canada and into the USA and Europe.

Have a listen to "fYreflies" Camp fYrefly Theme song created by Kate Reid and camper Chase McKee.


Ainsley Hillyard

Ainsley is an Edmonton-based performer, choreographer, and educator who works in dance and theatre. Since earning a Diploma in dance from Grant MacEwan College and a BA (Hons) from The Winnipeg School of Contemporary dancers in 2008, she has become a stalwart force in the Edmonton dance community. She is a core artistic member of the Good Women Dance Collective, which has created and performed works for the Brian Webb Dance Company, Dancers’ Studio West, Mile Zero Dance, TedX Edmonton, The Expanse Festival, and The Feats Festival of dance, among others. Her work with Good Women Dance also includes the curation of Dancefest for the Nextfest Arts Company, coordinating the Masterclass series for the Expanse Festival, and teaching ongoing company classes open to the public.

As an independent artist, Ainsley has choreographed for several theatre companies including: Workshop West (Double Double); Surreal SoReal (Genius Code, Beckett’s Shorts); The Serca Festival (Tristan and Isolde); Catch The Keys (Snout); Prospero Theatre (Midsummer Night’s Dream); Cowardly Kiss Theatre (Night Time). She is also an emerging actor, having recently performed in pool (no water) for Studio Theatre, and Snout for Catch the Keys Productions.

As Ainsley continues to deepen her artistic practice, undergoing intensives with major dance figures such as Sasha Ivanochko, Andrew Harwood, and Melanie Demers, she also continues to deepen her community work. She has been a frequent mentor to dance students at Victoria School for the Arts and emerging choreographers throughout Edmonton and is extremely thrilled and excited to be the Artist in Residence for fYrefly this year!!

Vivek Shraya

Vivek is a Toronto-based multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, poetry and film. Vivek creates and delivers workshops and guest lectures about writing, art, gender, sexuality and homophobia. Winner of the We Are Listening International Singer/Songwriter Award, Vivek has released albums ranging from acoustic folk-rock to electro synth-pop. Her sixth record, 1:1, was released in Fall 2011. God Loves Hair, her first collection of short stories, was a 2011 Lambda Literary Award finalist, won the Applied Arts Award for Illustration in 2010, and is currently being used as a textbook at several post-secondary institutions.

Vivek has performed and read at shows and festivals internationally, sharing the stage with Ivan Coyote, Tegan and Sara, Dragonette, and Melissa Ferrick, and appearing at NXNE, CMW, and Word on the Street. Her music has also been featured on the TV show Degrassi. Seeking Single White Male, her first short film, was screened at international film festivals throughout 2011. Her third short film, What I LOVE about being QUEER, has also screened internationally and has been expanded into an online project and, most recently, a book. Vivek was also nominated for LGBTQ Person of the Year in the 2012 INSPIRE Awards, and was #1 on Nightlife’s list of “Reasons 2011 was a Queer Year”.

Learn more about Vivek’s work at

Kate Reid

Kate Reid is a critically acclaimed, professional musician-comedienne-activist from Bowen Island, British Columbia. She is a guitar-playing, harmonica-slinging singer-songwriter and bona-fide storyteller. Armed with rapid-fire wit, she is also a feminist lesbian who holds nothing back in her songwriting about her life and her views of the world in which she lives. Unapologetically flying the rainbow flag, her discography includes Comin' Alive (2006), I'm Just Warming Up (2009), and her most recent release, Doing it for the Chicks (2011). Raised on a farm near Ayr, Ontario, Kate settled on the west coast in 2005, quickly winning a loud, proud grassroots audience with a style she describes as "slam-storytelling meets folk-music". This flamed-haired, faux-hawked folkie's strength is delivering alt-culture songs that move audiences to laugh, cry and think: songs that showcase her fast-talking humour, activist spirit, and incisive take on life's bittersweet truths. Sometimes hard-hitting and sometimes hilarious, her lyrics are honest and poignant, brimming with pride and socio-political commentary. Kate is currently working on her fourth recording project entitled The Gayest Album Ever: an album based on interviews she conducted with children, youth, and adult children of LGBTQ parents. This album is set to be released in early 2013.

Prior to becoming a professional musician, Kate earned a BA in Psychology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a BEd at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. She has spent many years working with children and youth and she was thrilled to be invited as the Artist-in-Residence for Camp fYrefly 2012.

You can listen to Closet Femme, from Doing it for the Chicks, here.

Spencer J. Harrison

Spencer Harrison was our 2011 artist-in-residence at both Camp fYrefly-Edmonton and Camp fYrefly-Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Spencer's contribution was unique and significant, conveying his passion and commitment to helping sexual and gender minority youth make their lives better now. When he was not conducting workshops, Spencer could be found engaging Campers in animated conversations. He was always ready to encourage Campers and provoke their deeper critical thinking through thoughtful questioning. The workshops Spencer led were tied together through the common theme of authentic engagement. He raised key questions underlying this theme: What do you want your legacy to be? What stories do you want to leave behind? Through various artistic activities combined with small and large group discussions, Spencer led Campers through a journey where participants were encouraged to be self-reflective and authentically engaged as they shared their stories with those around them. Spencer's workshops facilitated the strengthening of friendships and a sense of belonging among Camp participants. He modeled what he was teaching through the keen interest he showed in others and the genuine appreciation he demonstrated for the individual stories and experiences shared. Spencer's parting words were ones of hope as he challenged everyone to be true to theirselves and to be courageous on life's personal journeys. Spencer encouraged one and all to take a bow and loudly say, "Ta Dah!".

Please take the opportunity to look at Spencer's website, where you can learn more about his work and how he continually advocates for sexual and gender minority youth.

Brian Webb

In 2010, Camp fYrefly-Edmonton was pleased to welcome internationally acclaimed dancer, producer, and choreographer Brian Webb as its Artist-in-Residence. The theme for 2010 was "movement", which reflects the period of adolescence and young adulthood as a transitionary space where growth, self-discovery, and the consolidations of one's identity, values, and beliefs occurs. Together youth and artists collaborated on an interdisciplinary performance that explored their relationship to their bodies and then to the group. Brian hosted a multi-day workshop stream that was fun, provocative, and celebrated its participants as individuals.

Upon completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Alberta, Brian spent some time in New York City. When he retured in 1979, he formed the Brian Webb Dance Company (BWDC), which is now the largest season of contemporary dance west of Toronto. Brian has been inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame (2002), received the Queen's Jubilee Medal (2002), and the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005). Recently, the Edmonton Journal named Brian Webb as the "most powerful man in Canadian contemporary dance."

To read more about the Brian Webb Dance Company, and Brian's award winning career, please visit his official website.

Anthea Black

Anthea Black is a Canadian artist, art writer, and cultural worker. Her artworks use printmaking, textiles, performance, and video to set the stage for queer collaborative practice and community-building in public spaces. Her academic research situates contemporary artworks by queer and transgendered artists in relation to navigating and mapping of urban and rural spaces, utopias and political borders, and as a "turn towards" a queer future.

In 2007, she launched looking for love in all the wrong places, a series of hand-silkscreened posters commissioned by queer artists for public spaces in Alberta and beyond. The project has since included collaborations with queer artists Daryl Vocat, Karen Campos, Megan Morman and Cindy Baker, Carol Maxwell, and Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan. The poster collection and silkscreen printing process were the basis for Anthea's Artist in Residence project at Camp fYrefly, in partnership with the Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists.

Her recent exhibitions and publications include:


Ivan Coyote

Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD's, four short films, and a renowned performer, Ivan's first love is live storytelling, and over the last seventeen years she has become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer's festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam. The Globe and Mail called Ivan "a natural-born storyteller" and Ottawa X Press said "Coyote is to CanLit what k.d. lang is to country music: a beautifully odd fixture." Toronto Star praises Coyote's "talent for sketching the bizarre in the everyday", and Quill's Magazine says Ivan has a "distinctive and persuasive voice, a flawless sense of pacing, and an impeccable sense of story." Ivan's column, Loose End has appeared monthly in Xtra West magazine since 2001. Her first novel, Bow Grip, was awarded the Relit award for best fiction and named by the American Library Association as a Stonewall honor book in literature, and is in development to be made into a feature length film. Ivan's new collection of short stories, Missed Her, was released in September, 2010.

You can visit Ivan's website to explore her works, and watch some footage of her performances. Additionally, a number of her videos are available on YouTube, but here is the first part of "You Are Here", which Ivan performed at Words Aloud, 2007.

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