Born in 1954 in on Manitoulin Island, James Simon Mishibinijima grew up in Wikwemikong, one of the few Unceded Territories in Canada.
Mishibinijima means “Birchbark Silver Shield.” Mishibinijima was given the name James Alexander Simon by missionaries who found his name difficult to pronounce.
Among his early teachers was Francis Kagige, an artist and neighbour, and recognized as one of the important pioneers of Wikwemikong art. Kagige had one of the few painting studios in the community. Mishibinijima would frequently visit his elder there where he was given his earliest instructions in painting and some lessons about style. Kagige also shared teachings about their Ojibwe culture and told the young artist his stories. The community’s elders and Mishibinijima’s relatives also imparted oral histories and described the myths and legends that are part of his cultural heritage.
James Simon Mishibinijima is known for two signature styles. “Mountain paintings.” where he blends humanity with nature. A second personal style adapts ancient pictographic paintings. Mysterious visual symbolism referencing human forms and translating radiant energies in pictorial terms.