Saskatoon

Public art committee calls for group to include 2 or more Indigenous people

"The kind of conversation gets to be different when you have people around the table who have a different perspective," says Jeremy Morgan, chair of the Public Art Advisory Committee.

Chair Jeremy Morgan says the move would make group more inclusive

A muskox sculpture by Floyd Wanner on 20th Street called "Keeping the Wolf at Bay." (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The seven Saskatoon residents who decide what art pieces get displayed throughout the city want their group to now include two or more Indigenous members, as the group currently has none.

Jeremy Morgan, the chair of the Public Art Advisory Committee, says the move would help the group meet the goal of inclusiveness set out in many parts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

"It's not that you're all of a sudden going to see work by Indigenous artists popping up all over the place," said Morgan.

But he added, "The kind of conversation gets to be different when you have people around the table who have a different perspective or can bring a sensibility that's not what we usually think of when we think of public art."

Collaboration key, says artist

Morgan added it would help expand the palette of public works on display so far beyond the "mainstream."

An art piece under a ramp for the Sir Buckwold Bridge. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Zoey Roy, a Métis artist, supports the idea.

She says it could help prevent something like what happened in Calgary this past summer. That city came under scrutiny by Blackfoot nations for an installation, created by a New York City artist, that some felt was guilty of cultural theft.

"We learned that no matter what your intention is, if you don't have Indigenous ways of knowing but you have good intentions of making Indigeneity visible in our city, I think the most authentic way to do that with most integrity is to collaborate with Indigenous people," said Roy.

Mayor Charlie Clark, whose portfolio includes the calls to action, welcomed the idea too.

"The more our boards have the right mix of diversity to help inform the decision that they're making and give advice to council, the better," he said.

Self-nomination process

People currently nominate themselves to the city's boards and committees.

Clark said the application process involves a voluntary form where people are asked to specify their gender, disability, Indigenous background and whether they're a member of a visible minority.

Morgan and the rest of the Public Art Advisory Committee have not outlined how they would like the city to add two Indigenous members to the group.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

now