Chippewa artist Jay Soule uses buffalo skulls to make his point at Toronto exhibit


A new creation by Chippewa of the Thames multimedia artist, Jay Soule, aka Chippewar, adorns the walkway of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

Replicas of buffalo skulls are stacked by the thousands onto a pile in Soule’s latest piece, it’s called Built on Genocide.

Soule says the idea behind the work is to create awareness.

“The first kind of known genocide that was perpetrated by the Canadian government to Indigenous people first and foremost started with the slaughtering of the bison in the prairies as a means of a military tactic,” he says. “To dispossess Indigenous people of their lands and the ability to clothe themselves, house themselves and feed themselves.”

The exhibition is presented by Luminato Festival.  According to Soule, the idea came while working on a research project five years ago when he came across some old photos of giant Buffalo mounds of skulls and bones.

“As I sort of dug into the research behind that there was a connection to John A McDonald’s executive order, to do that in the prairies as a means of a military tactic, within the Canadian history books it’s sort of, it’s lied about,” he told APTN News.

Mat Pereria, who is from Vancouver, came downtown specifically to see the exhibit.

“I think it paints a really good statement, that we are built on the lives of Indigenous people, there’s a lot of reconciliation that needs to happen especially in the wake of the truth reconciliation day popping on the 30th I think this is a really important message,” says Pereria.

Surrounding the installation are 20 images that Soule created to highlight the continued devastation on Indigenous Peoples.

Tanya Bruce says she likes the honesty in Soule’s art.

“I think it’s really important for Canadians to see it this way,  I think we require, and we demand that the story is always told in a way that is comforting to us and I appreciate that it’s no longer being made comfortable for us and I don’t think it should be made comfortable and if we are uncomfortable then maybe we should do something about why we’re so uncomfortable with our history,” says Bruce.

The free exhibition runs until Oct. 24.

Annette Francis

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