Ice sculpture dedicated to Neil Stonechild to be installed outside of Remai Modern

An ice sculpture dedicated to Neil Stonechild is being installed at Remai Modern as part of a new exhibit.

'I feel like the work is coming home,' says artist Rebecca Belmore

Rebecca Belmore said that people think her work conveys anger but she doesn't think of herself as an angry person. She said she sees herself more as a person looking at difficult things. (Canada Council for the Arts / Martin Lipman)

An ice sculpture dedicated to Neil Stonechild is being installed at Remai Modern as part of a new exhibit.

Freeze was first made in 2006 for Nuit Blanche in Toronto by renowned Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore and her partner Osvaldo Yero. Now a new instance of the sculpture will be part of the exhibit Facing the Monumental, which debuts at the Remai February 1. The sculpture is being installed January 31.  

Neil Stonechild froze to death on the outskirts of Saskatoon. His death led to an RCMP investigation, a judicial inquiry, and the firing of the two police officers who last had contact with the 17-year-old boy.

"It's really important to us, to my husband and myself that the work is installed here outside this building because I feel like the work is coming home," she said.

Belmore said she hopes the work starts a conversation about ongoing violence. 

"I think it's really important to say things as an artist that are difficult to think about."

Belmore acknowledged the emotion that is evident in her work, but also has a sense of hope for what's happening with young people now.

"Although the works holds the sadness of this young boy losing his life, I think there's lots of young people out there in the world who are doing really great things," she said. 

Wanda Nanibush (left) is the curator of the exhibition and Rebecca Belmore (right) is the artist. (CBC)

The curator of the exhibition, Wanda Nanibush, said that Stonechild's experience was not uncommon.

"This experience of Neil Stonechild was an experience that many Native men had across the country. It kind of knits us all together, but it's really important to remember the name. His name," she said.

Belmore said that people think her work conveys anger but she doesn't think of herself as an angry person. She said she sees herself more as a person looking at difficult things. 

The exhibition runs until May 5.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning