Public art installation examining reconciliation receives formal opening on the 150th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1

Arts, Culture & Heritage

Tanisikeketotamak….Kacistenemetoyak by KC Adams, is the third of four public art pieces supported by The Winnipeg Foundation.

Watch this video of highlights from the opening.

For immediate release: The public art installation by KC Adams, Tanisi keke totamak …. Ka cis teneme toyak (phonetic pronunciation: tan-i-si ke-ke to-ta-mak ka cis teen-ne-me tō-yak), which means What can we do, to respect each other, unveiled in April 2021, is being honoured in a formal opening ceremony today.

The opening date was chosen to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1 because of the relationship forged between Indigenous Peoples from this territory and settlers to the land. The installation examines reconciliation by highlighting the opportunity for harmony between Indigenous and settler communities. The significant anniversary and the opening of the installation is a reminder of why Indigenous ancestors signed the Treaties and to reflect on the past 150 years, in order to work together to move forward.

The 11-foot-tall installation fabricated out of steel and concrete with internally lit flames, is located at the Peace Meeting Site, close to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at The Forks. This is one of a series of public art installations commissioned by The Winnipeg Foundation for The Forks. The other installations are by Val Vint and Jaimie Isaac. All three installations are being supported by project curator, Dr. Julie Nagam.

Tanisi keke totamak …. Ka cis teneme toyak

“This sculpture tells the story of the brotherhood between the benevolent spirit Wesakechak (phonetic pronunciation: we-sa-ke-chak) and the Wolf,” says artist KC Adams. “Wesakechak represents the Indigenous People, and the Wolf represents settlers. Wesakechak is a carrier of knowledge: community, family, land, water, plants, creatures, and the spirit world. The Wolf brings forth wisdom and power when embodying ‘community’ but is disastrous when acting as a lone wolf. At the base of this piece is a pow-wow drum that binds Wesakechak together with the Wolf. As they stare at each other, they see the possibilities of a better future, an opportunity to live in harmony. This work asks, ‘What can we do to respect each other? Will the flames be healing or disastrous?’”

“This sculpture is also a symbol of the continued intentions of treaties to build good relations between settlers, Indigenous people, land, water and all our living relatives, Adams added. “The environmental concerns and residential school revelations is a reminder that settlers need to do better and listen.”

“Truth and reconciliation plays an integral role in our collective journey forward,” says Sky Bridges, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation. “Tanisi keke totamak …. Ka cis teneme toyak, and the series of public artworks commissioned by The Foundation, respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action 83 which highlights the importance of collaborative projects that work towards reconciliation. As we work to help ensure an equitable future for all, we must make space for all voices. These public artworks are one way The Foundation is working to realize its vision of ‘a Winnipeg where community flourishes for all.’”

The first public art installation commissioned by The Foundation, Chi-kishkayhitamihk si te li neu Biizon (Education is the New Bison) by artist Val Vint, was launched in June 2020. A 12-foot bison constructed out of steel replicas of books, it recognizes the importance education, truth and reconciliation play in our cultural conversation.

The third art piece, The Eighth and Final Fire by Jaimie Isaac, will be installed later this year. It will feature eight spherical globes, internally lit by strong solar panels of varying colours. It recognizes the Seven Fires prophecies of the Anishinaabe, which foretells the coming of settlers on Turtle Island and the complexity of the relationships throughout history. It will be located at the MMIWG monument, close to the Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks. The three artists are also the co-creators of Niimaamaa, – the first public art installation – supported in part by The Foundation, and is located at Niizhoziibean (formerly South Point), at The Forks.

For more information, read Investment in The Forks [PDF]

The $500,000 investment for the works of art comes as part of The Winnipeg Foundation’s ongoing Green Spaces Strategy, which has seen the revitalization of parks and other public spaces throughout the downtown, including the recent development of The Gathering Space at The Forks, and creation of the Saint-Boniface Belvédère in 2019.


Media inquiries/questions:

LuAnn Lovlin, CFRE
Director of Communications & Marketing, The Winnipeg Foundation
Email LuAnn
C: 204-781-9336

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