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Meet Our People

Permanent Staff

Freya Milliken

Arts Administration and Programming Assistant

I am a musician, songwriter, and performer based in the Annapolis Valley and have been
working in music full-time for the last two years. I grew up on the Tantramar Marshlands of New
Brunswick in a small, historic village called Dorchester, where my love of music began. Choir
and musical theatre were my calling through secondary school, and when not in school, I wrote
songs and played guitar at home. In May 2023, I received my Bachelor of Music degree at
Acadia University and released my debut EP, “Wholeheartedly,” the following November. I have
played at many music festivals across the East Coast, including Paddlefest, Lunenburg Folk
Harbour Festival, and Deep Roots Music Festival, among others. When not performing, I work
for Music In Communities, where I have developed skills in workshop facilitation, public
speaking, live sound, event management, collaboration, and leadership. I am excited to join the
fabulous team at Ross Creek and continue to strengthen communities through artistic
experiences!
Awards: Song of the Year at the 2023 Music New Brunswick Awards for “Wholeheartedly”

Contact Freya

Yifan Liu (she/they)

Program Coordinator

Originating from China, my artistic journey started at LAFA (Luxun Academy of Fine
Arts), where I gained my BA in cinematography in 2016, followed by a background
in documentaries and commercials for a few years. In 2021, I moved to Nova Scotia
for a master’s program at NSCAD University to extend my creative experiences and
immediately fell in love with the beautiful nature and loving community. After
school, I decided to settle down and see my life unfold here.

I am a visual artist swinging between media art or any form of digital-based art,
photography, and drawing while stumbling through various mediums for curiosity
and reflection. Otherwise, you will find me folding paper, wandering in nature with
my film camera, bouldering, or just napping on grass.

Ross Creek is such a magical platform for creative programming while nurturing my
creative life. I am so excited to be a part of it and contribute to the magic! I am
looking forward to connecting with the vibrant community!

Contact Yifan

Lucy Forrester Wendt

Programming Assistant

Hello! I’m very excited to be joining the wonderful Ross Creek and Two Planks team. I enjoy
connecting with others and am thrilled to be a part of such an arts-focused environment. I feel
like I’ve found my new home here, and I can’t wait to help contribute to creating a healthy,
inclusive arts community by implementing programming that encourages learning and
growth.

I am an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and education, and I will continue to
advocate for the role that the arts can play in strengthening our bonds with our community.
In 2022, I graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art
History and a double minor in Visual and Material Studies as well as Museum and Curatorial
Studies. In addition to earning a Certificate in Visual Literacy and Culture.
It is my first time living in the Annapolis Valley. I’m looking forward to learning more about
the land’s culture and experiencing the magic I’ve heard about! In my spare time, I enjoy
reading and journaling, and you can always find me drawing or doodling. Also, my lovely
black cat Mina will always be by my side!
I can’t wait to meet everyone and start this incredible journey!

Contact Lucy

Elizabeth Sircom

Sculpture, Visual Arts, Children and Youth Camps

Elizabeth trained as an artist in France, where she learned many drawing and painting techniques, as well as clay sculpture. In her work, she has always been drawn to portraiture. Elizabeth’s most recent exhibition was at the Icehouse Gallery in Tatamagouche in October 2022, as part of a group portrait show called “Face Value.” She has been teaching art for over 25 years to both adults and children. Elizabeth is a member of Visuals Arts Nova Scotia’s PAINTS (Professional Artists In The Schools) program and is active with Memory Café NS, which brings art and music to people living with dementia. She enjoys teaching in Ross Creek’s highly imaginative and friendly atmosphere.

Elizabeth’s teaching approach “is very flexible! I like to get to know my students and try to offer each individual something personal to take away from a workshop. Materials and imagination go hand in hand, so I spend a lot of time helping students learn to use a variety of different materials. I show up for a workshop with a well-defined project and then improvise a lot. Many of my workshops have also included a ‘play acting’ element; for example, a physical warmup where students act out geometrical shapes, so they can reproduce the ‘feeling’ of their gestures in their drawings. With juniors I use a lot of make-believe and story-telling.”

Maria Osende

Dance (Ballet/Flamenco)

Maria Osende is a highly accomplished professional dancer, teacher, choreographer and producer. Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Osende started dancing ballet at the age of seven. At seventeen, a Fulbright scholarship allowed her to deepen her ballet studies at the renowned School of American Ballet in New York City. Prior to moving to Halifax, Osende danced professionally with the Compañia Nacional de Danza in Spain and the Berlin Ballet in Germany, where she was soon promoted to  soloist. During this time, she worked with various internationally renowned choreographers, performing a wide-ranged repertoire of classical and contemporary dance.

Over time, Osende’s passion for creativity and artistic freedom brought her back to her Spanish roots and to flamenco, becoming a freelance flamenco dancer in Berlin before moving to Canada in 2003 and taking Halifax by storm.

Since then Osende has produced over 30 works, ranging from full-length main stage shows to solos and commissions. In the fall of 2015, Osende was awarded with the “Established Artist Recognition Award” by Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council.

Photo by Jesus Vallinas

I’thandi Munro

Jeweller, metalsmith, filmmaker, dancer

I’thandi Munro is a mixed Afro-Euro L’nu woman living in K’jipuktuk, Miꞌkmaꞌki, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. Munro is a professional performance and visual artist. In 2020, she completed her BFA, earning a double major in Photography and Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing from NSCAD University. As a racialized person living in a postcolonial environment, Munro uses the representation of line and of lineage as underlying concepts in her fine art, craft, and dance. Often merging different mediums into finished pieces, there is always a sense of multiplicity within her work, melding notions of the digital and the physical within her craft. Leaving space for her pieces to naturally evolve through reaction and discussion, Munro creates an ever-changing body of work that can be explored and realised in different ways.

In November 2022, Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council awarded I’thandi an Emerging Artist Recognition Award. 

Ian McKay (the Senior)

Making, STEAM, Imagining

Ian loves helping people become Makers. In the past, he has run workshops at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in basic robotics, making art from upcycled electronics and rocketry. He used to be a High School teacher in a former life and still loves to facilitate groups of enthusiastic learners when he shares his passion for STEAM (Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Math) with others.

Ami McKay

Writing

Ami McKay is the author of three bestselling novels–The Birth HouseThe Virgin Cure, and The Witches of New York—as well as the novella, Half Spent Was the Night. Her memoir, Daughter of Family G was named a CBC Best Book of 2019. McKay is also a playwright, composer, and essayist. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now lives in Nova Scotia.

Jamie MacLean

outdoor education, environmental programs

Jamie was Ross Creek’s property manager and eco-educator from 2020 to 2022! She is an experienced nature program facilitator, an expert wayfarer of the Ross Creek landscape, a wealth of ecological knowledge, and knitting enthusiast.

“I have worked with multiple nonprofit organisations who offer outdoor education and community programming. This work has always been centred around ecological discoveries for youth and the public. I am currently at school to further my education and build on my technical skills as they relate to horticulture and agriculture. My goal is to refocus my efforts in the environmental sector to combat climate change as it relates to restoration and food security.

My teaching philosophy is to use our connection with nature as a tool for building strong relationships with the outdoors, community, and self. By taking the time to explore all the little things that are found in nature, we can foster confidence in children to play and learn outdoors and empower the next generation of environmental stewards.”

David LeRue

Youth Programs, Visual Art

Dave LeRue is a Montreal based artist, writer, and educator, and is currently pursuing a P.h.D in Art Education at Concordia University. He was born and raised in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, getting his BFA at NSCAD University in 2014. He moved to Montreal in 2016, completing an MFA in painting in 2019. He lives in Cote des Neiges with his beloved Charlotte and overly affectionate cat, Wilburtheaus.

Of his teaching philosophy, Dave says: “The hardest part about making is starting. I structure my classes to encourage doing before thinking. Make a mark! Pick a colour! Take the exercise as far as you can! Once a project is in progress, I view myself as a mediator. Let’s work with what you have! I encourage my students to focus on their strengths, ideally helping them to channel their excitement and energy into the work they’re doing. I love the excitement that young artists bring to their practices, and the feeling of discovery when the unexpected happens. When class is going well, I’m merely steering the energy, calling out directions for students on their own ships to interpret as they will. If I’ve done my job well, students come away seeing things in a new way, learning new techniques, and feeling more confident in their abilities and ready to take on new challenges. Failure is always an option.”

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