Canada Post issues stamp to honour work of Christi Belcourt

Belcourt’s stamp unveiled at a ceremony at Wabano Centre Aboriginal Health in Ottawa

A crowd gathered at Wabano Tuesday morning to celebrate Christi Belcourt, her art and her accomplishments which culminated in Canada Post unveiling a stamp with her on it.

The smell of sage wafted through the space as did beadwork and ribbon skirts.

Belcourt stepped onto the stage after her mother and father had the honour of unveiling her stamp.

Belcourt’s stamp was unveiled in a ceremony with Elders, family and friends, at Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre in Ottawa.

To commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day 2024, Canada Post unveiled three stamps that featured Indigenous leaders, Belcourt, Elisapie and Josephine Mandamin.

The new stamp set is the third in a series which began in 2022 highlighting the contributions of modern-day First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders who have spent their lives preserving their cultures and improving the lives of Indigenous people.

Belcourt is a Métis artist, activist and environmentalist known for her floral paintings based on Métis beadwork.

“It is a great honour to have my work recognized but at the same time I always think about community and how many people in the community that don’t get this type of recognition and how many people deserve recognition for the work that they do,” she said.  “How important community is, how we all hold each other up. I think that’s the one thing I really think about all the time, reciprocity and how I can give back to my community.”

Belcourt said she uses her art as teachings to advocate for water and land protection, and to support language and culture.

Born in Scarborough, Belcourt is a descendant of the Métis community of Manitow Sakahikan, (Lac Ste. Anne), in Alberta.

Belcourt’s work has been showcased all over North America and is found in permanent collections in galleries such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Gabriel Dumont Institute.

Belcourt is also a fixture in Ottawa with a stained-glass window called, Giniigaaniimenaaning, (Looking Ahead), which was installed in the center block at Parliament Hill.

Métis Elder and author of Halfbreed, Maria Campbell explained how Belcourt has inspired her over the years.

“Christi has inspired me as a writer and as a woman and as a grandmother. I have a house full of her art and each day that art feeds my soul and my life with stories, songs, ceremonies and memories of the women in our communities and in my life,” she said.

Lifelong friends of Belcourt attended the ceremony and spoke of how they always remember Belcourt with a paintbrush in hand.

“I have known Christi for more than 30 years. I am so proud. I always think back to the days with her, in her attic, watching her paint. There were times she’d finish a piece and say, “I don’t like the colour”, and I would watch her repaint the entire thing. Now seeing her on a stamp is like, wow,” said her friend, Mary Fisher.

Belcourt said it is surreal to see your face on something like this.

“I wanted to showcase only my artwork but they (Canada Post)wanted me on it. It’s surreal.”

Life-long friend Gina Doxtator agrees – it’s a bit surreal.

“I’ve known Christi for over 25 years. We met through mutual friends. I remember her painting but there was always lots of laughter that came with it,” she said. “I am honoured for her and proud of her. Part of Belcourt’s speech was about what is happening around the world right now.

“We see war and genocide happening, we see it with our very own eyes, we have to say something. We have to use our voices, don’t carry on as if life is just normal. It’s not. For all the babies to come, we have to stand up for them,” said Belcourt. “That is mainly my message, is that war is one of the worst environmental destructive forces on this planet. If you love the Earth, if you love those sacred spaces that you go to for quiet, if you love the waters that you live on, then it’s your obligation to stand up and say something.”

“We must find reasons to still have joy but we must also speak out.”

Belcourt explained the importance of artists speaking up in the face of oppression.

“Artists have a unique way of looking at the world. We have to have courage in our art, therefore we can’t hold back when it comes to speaking out. We have to have the courage to say things others don’t or won’t,” she said.

President of the Métis National Council, Cassidy Caron, appreciates how meaningful it is to showcase First Nations, Métis and Inuit art and culture in many ways.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to have our leaders in so many different ways, showcased across the country in such a wonderful way, especially on Canada Post stamps.  It’s time that this country has the opportunity to learn about all of the incredible Indigenous individuals who have contributed to our past,” she said.

Through tears Belcourt finished her speech by thanking Canada Post.

“I want to thank Canada Post for doing this series, and recognizing people, not just living, but also passed away, like Josephine Mandamin.

“It is truly an honour.”


Contribute Button