REGINA - Artists in Alberta and Saskatchewan are mourning the loss of four trailblazers who died in a crash on a Saskatchewan highway.
Friends and colleagues identified Lacy Morin-Desjarlais, Michele Sereda, Michael Green and Narcisse Blood as among the five people who died Tuesday in a three-vehicle collision about 15 kilometres north of Regina.
Leena Minifie, who considered Sereda her mentor and friend, said the artists were collaborating on a multi-disciplinary project and were on their way to the Piapot reserve.
"She's one woman who constantly rose above things and was full of grace," she said of Sereda, who was also Minifie's former roommate. "(She) made connections and brought people together on a constant basis to make people flourish."
Sereda, 49, was the artistic director of the experimental Curtain Razors theatre company. She had also started a theatre program working with aboriginal youth on the reserve.
"I don't know how Regina is going to bounce back from this, honestly," Minifie said. "She's the centre of so many things."
Minifie said Sereda "broke all the rules" in art, and was committed to working in aboriginal communities.
"Her happiness and laughter were completely infectious. She never settled ... she always did things for a grander purpose."
Minifie was also friends with Morin-Desjarlais, whom she described as a driven artist who was following her passion. The 29-year-old worked on plays and powwows at the University of Regina.
"She never had a negative thing to say about anyone," Minifie said, crying. Morin-Desjarlais came to "full blossom" in Saskatchewan after spending years in Vancouver as an artist, she added.
"With Michele's influence, Lacy got to spend the last two years dancing and doing what she wanted to do, what she dreamed her whole life of doing."
Green, 58, was the co-founder of One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary. The theatre company was inviting the public to join staff in a celebration of his life Wednesday afternoon.
"It's definitely a mood of shock and disbelief more than anything," said publicist Todd Hawkwood. "He was kind of the heart and soul of the organization ... the leader to get everyone inspired."
Hawkwood said Green was a proponent of experimental theatre in Calgary and across the country.
"(He thought) any kind of performance is acceptable and why not push the boundaries and try new things?" Hawkwood said.
Green was also curator for the High Performance Rodeo, which is in its 29th year as an international festival for the arts.
Narcisse Blood, 60, was an academic and artist from Cardston, Alta., and the former director of Kainai studies at Red Crow Community College.
His colleague, Ryan Heavy Head, said the Blackfoot elder and filmmaker was an inspiration to everyone at the college.
"He had really good humour ... bad jokes but always in good spirits," Heavy Head recalled with a fond laugh. "He really made everyone feel special."
Heavy Head said he worked with Blood for 20 years and the two travelled around the world together.
"He absolutely cared for all the people he came across. If he had an art, it was the art of relationship building."
The other man killed in the collision was Morley Hartenberger, 59, from Cupar, Sask.
Police continued to investigate the collision that also sent two other people to hospital. A woman remained in care and a man was released.