James Nicholas was a part of the Bird Clan of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (which used to be known as Nelson House). Even though he attended residential school at the age of eight, he still grew up with the strong presence of Indigenous ways of life. His family were trappers and practiced traditional medicine.
James grew up to be a community leader to the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. He used his education to fight for the rights of Indigenous peoples. He was a lover of languages, and poetry is an important part of his artworks.
James moved to Vancouver to become an actor, writer, filmmaker, and photographer. This is where he met Sandra Semchuk.
Sandra Semchuk is a photographer who grew up in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Her family is Ukrainian-Canadian. Her father Martin Semchuk was a socialist, who worked to bring social changes like Medicare to Saskatchewan. Through her photographs and videos, she explores the complex ways people relate to each other.
Sandra and James met in 1994, and were married soon after. They began to create artworks together, using poetry, photography, video, and performances.
Sadly, James passed away in in an accident at a fishing camp on the Fraser River.