The McCord Museum presents The Indian Act Revisited, an exhibition featuring works by eight First Nations artists
For a country recognized for its peacekeeping and human rights record, the contentious issue of Canada’s treatment of native peoples is still murky and questionable. More than 130 years later, the iconic Indian Act of 1876 is still the go-to document for constitutional questions about "Indian" status – though there have been several historically significant amendments to the Act, most notably the "Act to Amend the Indian Act" in 1985, where a woman’s right to marry outside of her band, for instance, no longer precluded her from being considered a native person.
Then again, it’s one thing to try to identify Status Indians (aboriginals) for the purposes of granting them their rights and another thing entirely to go so far as to politically limit the terms of their inclusion so their access to rights remains at the whim of the government. (One of my personal favourites in the double-standard shortlist is the 1930 amendment which permits a pool hall owner to bar entrance to an Indian who "by inordinate frequenting of a pool room either on or off an Indian reserve misspends or wastes his time or means to the detriment of himself, his family or household." In legal terms, by admitting such a person, the owner could have faced a fine or a one-month jail term.)
In the spirit of updating, reclaiming and re-envisioning the Indian Act, McGill’s McCord Museum is mounting an exhibit called The Indian Act Revisited, which runs until August 7. This exhibition features works from eight First Nations artists hailing from vastly different backgrounds, who have each revisited the aforementioned archaic 19th-century legislation as inspiration for their own experience of aboriginal artistic output.
The artists in the exhibition are: Eruoma Awashish (Atikamekw, Quebec), Maria Hupfield (Ojibwa, Ontario), France Gros-Louis Morin (Wendat, Quebec), Nadia Myre (Algonquin, Quebec), Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui (Wendat, Quebec), Teharihulen Michel Savard (Wendat, Quebec), Angela Sterritt (Gitxsan, British Columbia) and Jackie Traverse (Ojibwa, Manitoba).
Entrance to all the activities is free of charge.
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The Indian Act Revisited
At McCord Museum
Until August 7