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  • Writer's pictureFatima Learn

Ohhh Canada

This nation has been around for a lot longer than 153 years, but July 1, 1867 is known as Canada Day. This marks the occasion when the Constitution Act (formerly known as the British North America Act) was created. This is when all this great land decided to federally unite into One Dominion.

One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom. There it is - the Canadian connection to the monarchy, one of my 92 year old mother's favourite things to talk about. However, there is a lot more to Canada Day that should be brought to light and it has been very difficult to consider celebrating Canada day with the recent discoveries. I am ashamed of how this country's original ancestors have been treated throughout the years. Atonement is something that definitely needs to be seen and one of those actions can be to bring awareness to the indigenous plight in this country.

I want to make the purpose of this post to highlight the unique creative talent of Canada’s native artists. It is so distinct and I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it anywhere else in the world. Canadian native art is incredibly captivating to look at and centred on story telling, something I always believed to be an important component in art. People would often mistaken indigenous artwork like their Totems as idols they worshipped but that is not the case. This art really is about giving the viewer knowledge of the land, events and beliefs of the Original people. The artist Morrisseau’ artwork is an example - representing traditional legends and cultural values of his people, the Ojibway (also spelled Ojibwe and Ojibwa). His colourful stylized forms with strong black outlines make the images powerful and bold. The symbols used are of cultural significance, describing what the use of the land was and a variety of practices they partook in. I would hope to find that native art is well respected in Canada and revered among artists. However, I am not native and can not speak for their personal feelings and experiences on the subject, and nor can I speak on behalf of all artists. I can only comment on my admiration for the work I have seen and what it represents.

Top Image - “Ohhh Canada” by Fatima Learn, a collage of digitally manipulated photographs. Features the “Kakaso’Las” Totem, carved by Ellen Neel, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC.

Second Image - “Shaman and Disciples” by Norval Morrisseau, acrylic on canvas, Purchased 1979 by McMichael Canadian Art Collection


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