Ila Barker | 2022 Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency

Ila Barker with an acoustic guitar.

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency provides professional artists with time to focus on their work in the beautiful natural setting of Riding Mountain National Park, housed in the historic Deep Bay cabin.

Follow along as we feature this years’ artists-in-residence and their exciting projects!

With her soulful voice and lyrics that wash over the minds and hearts of audiences like waves, singer-songwriter Ila Barker is a force to be reckoned with. This Winnipeg based folk-soul artist of Anishinaabe and Settler heritage takes listeners on an introspective journey, inviting them to connect deeply with their own emotions. As an act of reciprocity, Ila mentors emerging Indigenous artists in AIRsessions, her self-curated music workshop series. Ila has taken the stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Regina Folk Festival, sākihiwē festival, and opened for Jeremy Dutcher’s sold out performance at the Indian River Festival in PEI. After the release of her self-titled debut album (2013) Ila took time to mindfully refine her artistry, embarking on a creative evolution, and emerging with a self-determine sound. Her upcoming album Fool Under Water (2022) is an honour song to her metamorphosis into the powerhouse she is today and a promise that the tide will turn.

MAC: Tell us about your project—what will you be working on in the Deep Bay Cabin? 

IB: I will be working alongside artist Hera Nalam to create a collection of songs and poems and demos (works in progress) based on our time in the park. We will explore the complex relationship we both have from our respective lenses, myself as a mixed Indigenous person, and Hera as an immigrant from the Philippines. We will also be looking at bridging connections between our different relationships to the colonization and genocide in both of our homelands.

What is your relationship with the park, and what are you most looking forward to exploring?

I’ve visited briefly while driving out west. My relationship is somewhat limited as my visit was quick. I’m looking forward to visiting again and having the opportunity to develop a more in-depth relationship with the land there and get to know the history of whose land it actually is and what’s happened along the way.

How do you hope the park will influence or inspire your project?

We will be recording different nature sounds and sampling them directly into our music tracks and letting them help guide the direction our music takes.

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency is offered in partnership by the Manitoba Arts Council and Riding Mountain National Park.

Interested in the staying in the Deep Bay cabin? Find out how to apply to the Riding Mountain Artists Residency through the Learn – Residencies grant stream. Apply by November 1, 2022 for a residency in the summer of 2023.