Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) is a Wolastoqiyik Indigenous multidisciplinary artist (Storyteller) from Tobique First Nation, NB. She began her arts practice as a painter and designer and is an alumna of New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Her painting style and visual storytelling is rooted from Wolastoqiyik motifs inspired by the Wabanaki Lands and teachings. It carries a symbolic movement which she calls "dancing the four directions," representing our emotions, our dance of spirit and song. Painting awakened her. It deepened her curiosity of who she was as a Wolastoqiyik. Her storytelling became a healing journey and she is constantly enlightened by learning from, teaching about and sharing stories of the lands.
"I realized early in my painting career that I was not painting just for me, but I was painting for my people - I was painting for my ancestors. Today, as I stand in the Wolastoq waters I am witnessing our language being lost, our lands hurting and our water crying. I feel our stories need to be heard louder than a painting can speak." Samaqani Cocahq
Her first play, Finding Wolastoq Voice, was created in residency and with guidance and mentorship from Artistic Director Thom Morgan Jones at Theatre New Brunswick as part of its 2017-2018 season. Finding Wolastoq Voice is the first Wolastoqiyik play shown on New Brunswick stages and National Stages.
Aside from her own artistic practice, Samaqani dedicates much of her time to advocacy for the arts and culture, mentorship for Indigenous artists and participation in numerous collaborations of diverse artist circles and community projects. She is currently in her New Brunswick studio working on her second play, which includes a large element of collaborations of Wabanaki artists, musicians and performers from Atlantic Canada.