The Acknowledgement Project
Ni waamjigaadeg aki (it’s time to see the land)
Ni waamjigaadeg debwewin (it’s time to see the truth)
on-site intervention located in Barrie, Ontario
In 2017, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday seen by many as another reminder of colonization and continued erasure of Indigenous nations. Across the country cities and municipalities planned events and commemorations funded in part by half a billion dollars earmarked for the occasion by the federal government. As part of their 150 celebration the City of Barrie, in partnership with local Rotary Clubs, installed a commemorative Sesquicentennial Clock on the same shoreline that once sustained thousands of Wendat and Anishinaabe peoples. To partially fund this clock, custom engraved paving stones were offered for purchase to the general public to be installed on the grounds that surround the new monument. As a means to intervene in this ongoing erasure through commemoration and as a response to Canada 150, four bricks were purchased and engraved with land acknowledgements. The phrases from this site-specific intervention are the focus of Land’s gallery counterpart project titled, Aki.
sage, sweetgrass, cedar ashes, wood and acrylic
The gallery installation of Aki builds upon the phrasing found in Land’s engraved bricks, informing the words further through materials and mode of display. Aki reflects upon the significance and preciousness of land and language to Indigenous peoples. These words, carefully stenciled using the ashes of three sacred medicines, elude to healing, cleansing, to starting anew. Working through the process of re-creating these acknowledgements requires patience, time and care so as to not disrupt. The decision to display this work, on plinths under the protection of clear vitrines, speaks as much to the value of these words in material form as it does to Anishinaabemowin, one of many Indigenous languages requiring protection following decades of attempted erasure via policies of assimilation.