6 Canadian artists who proudly walk in their mother’s footsteps

There is no denying that family ties can influence the things that attract us. For these Canadians, their mother’s passion for the arts inspired them to follow a similar path.

For many of them, following the same trajectory as their mother felt natural, but for others it was a more winding journey that ultimately brought them even closer to their mother.

CBC News spoke to six women who were inspired by their mothers to pursue the same artistic discipline.

WATCH | 6 artists in the footsteps of their mothers:

Meet 6 women who immersed themselves in the arts like their mothers

For each of the women who followed in their mother’s artistic footsteps, the journey was different, but they all found it ultimately strengthened their relationships. 3:25

A family of dancers

Heather Lewis, left, has been teaching dance since she was 18. Hailey Lewis, right, says her mother’s dance career has given them a special bond as they are able to bounce their choreography ideas off the ground. (Submitted by Hailey Lewis)

Hailey Lewis shares a strong bond with her mother, Heather, who has been teaching dance at the Burlington Dance Company (BDC) in Burlington, Ont., For more than two decades. Lewis said her mother was the reason she pursued a career in dance.

“I loved watching her teach because she was always encouraging, and the students left in style. I wanted to be part of that feeling of euphoria and feeling of oneness and accomplishment and sometimes challenge.”

Lewis recently completed his first term as a dance teacher in the musical theater program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

She says sharing her passion for dancing with her mother gave her the freedom to make it her own.

Kari Bodrug says her community, family and support system is centered around the family business, the Burlington Dance Company. (Kari Bodrug)

Kari Bodrug currently heads the BDC. Her mother, Cheryle Bodrug, started the studio 30 years ago in hopes of bringing the Burlington community together.

She says she has learned a lot from being around her mother so often at work.

“I run the business the same way she did,” Bodrug said.

Bodrug has been the artistic director of BDC for over a decade, and before that she was a performer.

“When I came back to the company, it was about honoring [her work], but at a certain level putting my own imprint on it, bringing together the two ideas of what she created and what I experienced. “

While Bodrug continues to run the family business, his mother remains a trusted advisor to the studio.

Learn to paint

Magdalene Johnson considers the painting to be a gift from her mother. She also sees it as a therapeutic liberation. (Madeleine Johnson)

Magdalene Johnson grew up watching her mother, Jola (Maria) Misiak, paint.

Today, she is a fine art painter on Vancouver Island, having recently returned to the craft during the pandemic. Johnson says to paint and create a Business around her strengthened her bond with her mother.

“My mother’s job [was] all over the walls. I remember coming home and there would be a whole new picture on the wall. “

Johnson recalled that although she grew up surrounded by her mother’s paintings, she resisted following the same artistic path and turned to teaching first.

“I think she always saw this creative side of me and never really realized it. She would probably cry knowing that she was finally able to squeeze something out of me that is very similar to her.”

Although the two continue to share a common pleasure in painting, Johnson said her mother preferred to keep her paintings private.

Mother-daughter editors

Layla Ahmad, left, said she grew up attending book readings and book launches with her mother, Farida Zaman, right. (Layla Ahmad)

Children’s book author Layla Ahmad grew up in a house that also housed her mother’s illustration studio.

Ahmad said this forced her to follow suit in the book publishing industry.

“It was something that I always really wanted and we ended up being in complementary fields,” Ahmad said.

Earlier this year, the mother-daughter duo released a book together called When mom is away. Ahmad said that working and starting his first book with his mother was a great mark of respect.

“There’s a whole thing where I want to work on more books with my mom, but I also want to be my own person.”

A family of music lovers

Zamani Millar hopes her music will take her around the world, just like her mother’s music did for her. She also plans to take time for her other creative outlets, design and architecture. (Provided by Zamani)

Zamani Millar is a 20-year-old singer, songwriter and producer from Halifax who was born into a family of music lovers. The singer said she modeled parts of her musical style after that of her mother, who was in the a cappella quartet. Four the moment.

Delvina Bernard was the principal founder and musical director of the feminist group which has performed across Canada and beyond for more than two decades.

“She was in a band, so I’m doing this solo and it’s different because all the pressure is on me,” Zamani said.

From left to right, Anne Marie Woods, Delvina Bernard, Kim Bernard, Andrea Currie formed the a cappella group Four the Moment. The band officially ended their music career in 2001, but have made numerous appearances since, most recently with civil rights activist and former Black Panthers member Angela Davis in 2018. (Pierre Marsman)

Zamani says she would love to see herself maintain a life outside of music, the same way her mother did while forging her career as an educator in Halifax. In Zamani’s case, it would be a career in community space development.


Tess Benger, left, says her acting career overlaps that of her mother Nicky Guadagni, right, but they have yet to star together. (Tess Benger)

Nicky Guadagni’s dedication to the theater inspired her daughter, Tess Benger, to pursue a career in musical theater on her own.

“It was a fun transition going into hearing rooms with people who have known me since I was born,” said Benger, who is based in Toronto.

“The thing that I inherited [her] is in the rehearsal room, where my mom really enjoyed taking care of people if they were sick or injured. “

Benger said she looked into that sense of community she saw around her mother.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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