Sunday September 24, 2017

Not so funny money: Indigenous artist sets sights on the faces that adorn our currency

'Not so funny money' stickers by Jay Soule, aka Chippewar, remind us of the actions of the people who adorn Canadian currency.

'Not so funny money' stickers by Jay Soule, aka Chippewar, remind us of the actions of the people who adorn Canadian currency. (Chippewar)

Listen 9:07

As Canadians across the country debate whether or not historical figures with problematic histories should be stripped from statues, schools or street signs — one Indigenous artist has set his sights on the faces that adorn our currency.

Jay Soule is a multimedia artist from the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in Ontario. Soule, who is of Chippewa and Lebanese descent, creates art under the name "Chippewar"; a play on the words "Chippewa" and "warrior".

Not So Funny Money quote

Jay Soule has created vinyl stickers that can be attached to Canadian currency. (Jay Soule/Supplied)

His new grassroots sticker project is called Not So Funny Money.

"I've created little vinyl stickers that go on the $5, $10, and $20 bills. I've taken historical quotes from Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and John A. Macdonald. I've put these quotes in little speech bubbles, and you stick them onto the currency."

Soule also created a sticker for the Queen's bill that says, "I own 82% of the landmass in Canada (Crown land). 0.2% of Crown land has been set aside for the use of Indians."

"I think it's important for Canadians to understand that when we're asking for our lands to be returned to us, we're not asking for your homes or your cottage, your businesses, your small towns to move off of our land. What we're talking about getting back is that 82% of uninhabited Crown land," Sould explained. 

Not So Funny Money started off as a research project on the buffalo - which led him to discovering more about Canada's first leader - John A. Macdonald.

Soule said during that project he learned things about Canadian history that he wasn't taught in school. "It was a systematic slaughtering of the buffalo as a means of starvation, as a means of clearing for industrial cattle, and for settlers and for the railroad. That's horrific. Those are true facts, those aren't made-up things."

For Soule, choosing who is honoured by being placed on currency is something that shouldn't be taken lightly. 

"If we're really going to be honouring people, we should be honouring people who are through-and-through good-hearted, kind, caring people who have done great things — not just for white settlers — but for all of Canada, including Indigenous people."