An upcoming exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery will commemorate Manitoba’s 150th anniversary by exploring the role of the Métis nation in the province’s birth.
Kwaata-nihtaawakihk – A Hard Birth will draw on both historical and contemporary art, archival documents, and artifacts to tell the story of Manitoba’s deeply complex beginning.
"Our province’s first legislative assembly was led by Louis Riel and the majority of its elected representatives were Indigenous residents of the Red River Settlement.
"This exhibition will guide you to a better understanding of the Métis, Anishinaabek, Cree, and European experiences of debate and negotiation, displacement, trauma, and resilience," the WAG’s website states.
Cathy Mattes and Sherry Farrell Racette curated the exhibition together. Both are university art professors.
Mattes said she hopes the exhibition provides "a new lens on the Métis people in Manitoba" and functions as "a site to ignite dialogue."
"Kwaata-nihtaawakihk" is an interpretation of "a hard birth" in Michif — the Métis language — made by knowledge keeper Verna DeMontigny, Mattes said.
The exhibition, which is set to be open from May to November, will feature 15 artists, four of which are creating commissioned pieces for the gallery.
Rosalie Favell, a former Winnipeg resident who now lives in Ottawa, will have her photographs on display.
"My work has always been about my (Métis) identity," Favell said. "I’ve been more confident about being a Métis person, a Métis artist, a Métis woman."
"I’m glad to be a part of the exhibition and to be considered in this context."
Katherine Boyer, a Winnipeg artist who specializes in sculptures and beadwork, said she’s "thrilled" to contribute to an exhibition which focuses on Métis history.
"I’ve been a part of only one other exclusively Métis exhibition, and it was one of the most rewarding and encouraging experiences of my life," Boyer said.
Mattes said she suspects this is one of the largest scale exhibitions dedicated to Métis art in ever to take place in Winnipeg, and possibly Canada.
"It feels like a milestone," Mattes said. "I’m excited to be a part of a project that not only honours my family… but honours Métis people.
"I really hope that my community and the province of Manitoba are as excited as (we) are."
Community Journalist - The Times
Sydney Hildebrandt is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 10:25 AM CST: Corrects translation of Kwaata-nihtaawakihk.