A seed by: Nikki Shaffeeullah (she/her)
Project: Main Pool
Nikki Shaffeeullah (she/her) is a theatre & film artist, facilitator, producer, writer, equity worker, and community organizer. Her work has included serving as Artistic Director of The AMY Project; Editor-in-Chief of cultural diversity and the stage; and Assistant Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre. Nikki has also taught in the performance departments of University of Toronto Scarborough and the University of Alberta. She produces sector-change projects through her organization Undercurrent Creations, and is a a founding member of Confluence Arts Collective, a group of artists-activists who believe in transformative justice and a world without prisons. An award-winning theatre and film artist, Nikki works as a director, writer, actor, improvisor, and producer, and collaborates with companies and artists from across Canada. She has held residencies with organizations including Canadian Stage, Why Not Theatre, The Theatre Centre, SummerWorks, and others, and she is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. As a facilitator, Nikki supports grassroots groups, non-profits, and public institutions to uphold equity and accountability in all aspects of their work, and runs facilitation training initiatives for equity-seeking artists and activists leading community-engaged work. She is an alumnus of Training for Change’s JCJ Fellowship for Trainers of Colour. Nikki holds an MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta, where her thesis won the Canadian Association for Theatre Research award for Intercultural Theatre, and a BA from McGill University. She has trained internationally with groups including Makhampom Foundation (Thailand) and Yuyachkani (Peru). A queer Indo-Caribbean artist born and living in Toronto, Nikki’s work is informed by a family who loves music, puns, justice, and food. She is grateful to live the complex, diverse metropolis of Toronto; land that been stewarded for many thousands of years by Indigenous peoples including the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendot peoples; land that is subject to the precolonial Dish With One Spoon covenant, and the colonial Treaty 13, held with the Mississaugas of the Credit Nation. Nikki believes that art should disrupt the status quo, centre the margins, engage with the ancient, dream of the future, and be for everyone.


Music, Theatre, Interdisciplinary Arts, Arts for Social Change, Film/Video, Literature, Poetry
This is an original seed

Seed Files --Click on the link(s) below to view the files


By Nikki Shaffeeullah


“I am bruising the way water does
after forty hours of rain
Awake under a pulling moon I stick
memos on the fridge: boil water, sweeten, stay.”
—“Memos/The Thaw,” Sasha Tate-Howarth 

Maybe trapped in the dark green glass 
are hundreds of souls. Spirits of the great
great grandmothers, who, too, sought refuge
in polished bottles – 
smooth while unbroken; sharp as fuck when smashed.
Maybe it is not simple, mortal intoxication, but
a haunting. The rivers mix: ghosts swim
from the drink to her blood.
She is swelling with their presence. I know because
I am bruising the way water does.

Deeper than oceans, channels twice removed
from their native basins. This blood is thicker
than the St. Lawrence, quicker
than the Demerara, sicker
than the Ganges. Like the kaniatarowanenneh 
her name is buried treasure. To dig, she does not deign. 
Bottles floated to the surface, in easy reach 
on that kala pani crossing. In the land of many waters
plantation dirt could be softened. Still, it numbs the pain
after forty hours of rain.

She is bound
by their possession. She is a vessel 
for fire. She is teeming, teeming with theirs, and hers. 
I chisel at the bottom of my cup, making space for her 
downward spills. I want to be held by our natural hierarchy.
But what is thirty years to centuries? Time spirals quick.
Which is the potion that makes a mother grand, 
a grandmother great? We seek earth and air.
In the sun, a waxen puddle, where there was once a wick.
Awake under a pulling moon, I stick.


She is bound for greatness: that she finds, and claims
and makes for herself. She takes them dancing. 
Reggae and calypso on a Sunday evening. 
Rum and reds effuse incantations of their own,
carrying us somewhere closer to freedom.
She lets them rest. She lets them play.
I too could dance. On silent nights
I could bring cups to her kitchen. 
And you have, in ours, for me, warm tea, every day.
Memos on the fridge: boil water, sweeten, stay.

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