about dawn



mary francis

Dawn Setford (Mary Francis Whiteman) is Mohawk, Bear Clan whose familial territory is St.Regis/Akwesasne.

She is a community-engaged visual and media artist who advocates for equality and facilitates the creation of informed opinions of Indigenous Cultures.

Dawn is the executive director of the Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada and owner at Pass The Feather.


work and education

Dawn actively volunteers for the Sixties Scoop NetworkNational Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network committee as the creator of their logo, website and graphic designs. Past web and graphic design work includes Century 21 Central America,  All Image Promotions, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (Walking In Her Moccasins), the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team and 15 years serving the veterinary industry.

Dawn is a member of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Educators Association of Ontario, she is a regular contributor to Aboriginal Women’s Economic Quarterly Indigenous, Spirit Magazine (Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada) and works retail spaces and the powwow trail to market, educate and promote the hand made works of fine Indigenous artisans.

Dawn attended Niagara College, Brock University, George Eastman House (analog photography) and Dundas Valley School of Art. Major - visual arts, Minor - Aboriginal Studies.

Dawn spent several years in Central America studying Indigenous cultures, their language and arts.

feathers and workshops

Dawn is a Feather-Keeper and artist. Her extensive collection of feathers is utilized in workshops where participants create talking feather bundles, personal smudge feathers and regalia fans. 

Dawn is an Indigenous adoptee and infuses her workshops with important perspectives regarding intergenerational trauma and the 60's scoop - a program aimed at removing young children from their communities and placing them in non-Indigenous homes. She explores sharing circle customs, bird medicine and intergenerational trauma in each workshop.

Dawn’s workshops are held in safe spaces within public and private school systems, summer camps, workplaces, community groups, federal buildings and on-reserve educational facilities.

Clients include private and public school boards across Ontario, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa School of Art, Residential School Survivors Adjudication Secretariat, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada among others.

Dawn spearheads a program that helps Ontario hunters recycle the wings and tails of their harvest and works closely with wildlife rehabilitation centres, zoos and aviaries. Her husband Derek drives all of Eastern and Southern Ontario picking up the birds and Dawn cleans them at home. The feathers are then used in our workshops to teach equality, indigenous bird medicines, sharing circles and restorative justice practices. 

For more information on our feather recycling program, click here FEATHERS FOR KIDS!