New installations by three Indigenous artists at The Forks will pay homage to Manitoba’s past and set the stage for our strong future
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Three new installations by Indigenous artists at The Forks will recognize the integral role truth and reconciliation plays in our nation’s collective journey forward, while paying homage to the exchanges of compassion upon which Manitoba was founded.
The designs by artists KC Adams, Jaimie Isaac and Val Vint, and curated by Dr. Julie Nagam, Chair of the History of Indigenous Arts of North America at the University of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Art Gallery, are being unveiled today, with completion dates in 2020 and 2021. The works are supported by The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with The Forks. View and download artists’ renderings here.
The $500,000 investment comes as part of The Foundation’s ongoing Green Spaces Initiative, which has seen the revitalization of parks and other public spaces throughout the downtown. The three artists are the co-creators of Niimaamaa, located at Niizhoziibean (formerly South Point) at The Forks, which was also supported in part by The Foundation.
“As Winnipeg’s Public Arts Policy states, public art ‘gives voice to community and builds relationships between diverse groups’,” says Richard Frost, CEO, The Winnipeg Foundation. “It is a very intentional commitment from The Foundation to support these projects, which are vitally important during this time in our national history which calls on each one of us to respond to and support healing, truth and reconciliation.”
“It makes sense for The Forks to be the host of these significant art pieces, given the site’s strong ties to Indigenous history,” says Paul Jordan, CEO, The Forks. “For millennia, this site has been a place for collaboration, trade, and conversation – we look forward to these art pieces continuing that story.”
“Education is the New Bison” by Val Vint
Description: Up to 20-foot-tall Bison constructed of replicas of books and videos
Unveiled: May 12, 2020, as part of Manitoba’s 150th Anniversary
Location: South Point Biomimic Garden
Abbreviated artist statement: As Blair Stonechild expresses, “Education is the new Bison” …This is a piece that I believe will affect folks in a positive way and assist in setting the course for a portion, a small part of the understanding of the truth that leads us all towards reconciliation… Truth and reconciliation flows only in one direction >> the door of truth must be flung wide open and journeyed through before we can ever hope to reach the door of reconciliation to find peace and bring spirit back to our existences in a real and tangible way. For me, and I truly hope for others, this will satisfy and bring us to the understanding of and enable all to hold in honour the Seven Sacred Teachings of Respect, Love, Truth, Courage, Honesty, Humility and Wisdom.”
“Friendship” by KC Adams
Description: Concrete sculpture of the spirit Wesukechak (Cree) and the wolf
Unveiled: April 26, 2021, as part of The Winnipeg Foundation’s 100th Anniversary
Location: Peace Meeting Site (close to Canadian Museum for Human Rights)
Abbreviated artist statement: “We are currently experiencing an exciting and positive resurgence of Indigenous culture, however it is not without painful reminders of the obstacles we still face. I can’t help but think of Tina Fontaine, a child, and one of the many murdered and missing women in this country. I think about Errol Greene who was fatally denied his medication while in custody and Brian Sinclair, who was racially profiled, ignored in an E.R. for 34 hours and died over a treatable condition. Examples of biases against our men. Despite these turbulent times, I am reminded of the speech by Grand Chief David Courchene Sr. (Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation, 1926-1992) and his address to Canadians in 1971. He speaks passionately about our struggles since contact and our ability to adapt to changing environment, our unbreakable spirit and our love for this land. He speaks of hope and that our attachment to the land means that we must also commit ourselves to help develop a healthy society for all the people who live upon this land. He believed that one day the descents of the settlers would stand up with honour and integrity to own the wrongs of the past and work towards a future where they live in harmony with the first peoples and eventually call us brothers.”
“The 8th and Final Fire” by Jaimie Isaac
Description: Eight spherical globes, internally lit by strong solar panels of varying colours
Unveiled: August 2021, anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1
Location: MMIWG Monument (close to Oodena Celebration Circle)
Abbreviated artist statement: “The Seven Fires prophecies of the Anishinaabe was conceived a very long time ago, and poignantly foretells the coming of settlers on Turtle Island and the complexity of the relationships throughout history. A quote from the Seven Fires Prophecy, “…It is as this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and Final Fire, an eternal Fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood.” The “light skinned race,” is referring to the politicians and those that are in a position to make change in a significant way going forward to work with Indigenous peoples and many Nations living together on this land to make positive changes based on the knowledge and experiences of our current and historical challenges among each other.
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