"Wuli ta has wugnul” (good thoughts of the past)
St Croix Island 2004
red cedar, 90,000 red trade beads, natural fibre
The year 2004 marked the 400th anniversary of the first attempt at permanent French settlement in Acadie. On June 26, 2004, events were held at Parks Canada’s Saint Croix Island International Historic Site at Bayside New Brunswick to commemorate this event.
This site was developed in 1994 by Parks Canada to convey the complexity and the scope of its history and heritage. The facilities there induced visitors to explore the site which offers a panoramic view of Saint Croix Island. Our sculpture was unveiled during the celebrations to mark the courage and the determination of the French people and the Meeting of Two Worlds - between the French and the Wabanaki First Nations. The objectives of the project organizers was to celebrate the heritage of Ste–Croix Island International Historic Site by recognizing the important role this island played in the founding of Acadie and Canada, by commemorating the legacy of the French and Aboriginal people to this nation and marking 400 Years of French Presence in North America.
We approached the Commemorative Triptych Project for the Island of St. Croix from a prospectus that focused on the encounter of the Maliseet People with the Acadian Peoples in the 1600’s. We viewed their interaction as one that proved itself to be of a friendly nature developing into an active trading partnership. Thus the sculpture acts as a beacon between the two cultures and represents aspects of friendship, migration and transportation as well as trade.
In the construction of this sculpture, we considered both material and design as significant representations of this meeting. The shape is an emergence of two relevant forms; 1) that of the bottom portion of a canoe paddle used by the Aboriginal Peoples in Eastern Canada and 2) is the shape of the Acadian ships’ structure as seen from an overhead perspective. Both forms are strongly nautical in sensibility and suggest migration and transportation that were preoccupations of both cultures. Incised on the front and back faces of the sculpture is a pattern using the iconography of the double–curve motif; an open curved form meaning both peace and friendship. This pattern is filled with 90,000 red trade beads. 90,000 pounds represents the cost of the first expedition to settle St. Croix and glass beads were trading units between the two peoples. It was our intention to create a work that is both beautiful and representative of the Acadian / Indigenous exchange.
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