Ojibway artist's giant stainless steel sculpture unveiled at Toronto Stock Exchange

An emerging artist from the Ojibway First Nation of M'Chigeeng in Ontario will have another sculpture on display in a prominent place. A large piece by Kathryn Corbiere was unveiled Tuesday at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Kathryn Corbiere's 3.3-metre-high creation represents a harvested piece of birch bark

Kathrn Corbiere of M'Chigeeng First Nation in Ontario stands beside the sculpture she created for TMX Group, which owns the Toronto Stock Exchange. The finished piece was unveiled in the indoor entrance of the building on Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday. (Supplied by Kathryn Corbiere)

Kathryn Corbiere of M'Chigeeng First Nation has another artistic piece displayed prominently in a high-traffic area.

The emerging Indigenous artist, who's from the Ojibway First Nation in the Manitoulin district of Ontario, was commissioned to do a metal sculpture for the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

The large piece was unveiled Tuesday to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Corbiere said it was earlier this year when a mutual friend passed her name on to the TMX Group, which owns the TSX.

The group commissioned her to create an Indigenous recognition piece for the front entrance, inside its office building on Adelaide Street at Bay Street.

"Big organizations and companies such as TMX and TSX are willing to make this recognition and really move ahead with truth and reconciliation and take these steps," said Corbiere. 

"It's finally happening, especially an organization that was just like an old boys' club for so many years; to see this happen and to have my work as an Indigenous artist here, it's really special."

The stainless steel sculpture stands 3.3 metres high. Corbiere said it represents a harvested piece of birch bark.

"It's actually a lot different than the majority of most of my stuff, so it's like a big abstract piece of art."

She said she wants the piece to tell the story of Canada's trading history between Indigenous people and settlers, and "how it all started with the canoe and how relevant birch bark was." 

Corbiere brought the art piece to Toronto on Saturday.

"It was quite the funny installation actually," she said, adding the crane from a company she hired didn't work.

"So I had eight strong guys on site that lifted this stone base that weighed 1,300 pounds [about 590 kilograms]," she said, adding everyone worked together and it got put up. 

Last month, Corbiere's metal sculpture of a red dress was positioned in front of the N'Swakomok Native Friendship Centre on busy Elm Street in Greater Sudbury to mark Red Dress Day on May 5.

"I do call myself an emerging artist.

"It's just exciting to be a part of projects such as this TMX, with the Indigenous inclusion and truth and reconciliation projects along the way."

Corbiere's next sculpture is earmarked for the entrance to the Henvey Inlet Wind Farm on Highway 69. She said the unveiling is expected for sometime in July.

"It's been a very busy year," she said.

"You know I started out just doing fabrication work but having this freedom to express my artistic side is allowing me to grow. So I'm excited to see where this goes from here."

Toronto Mayor John Tory said National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the diverse heritage, cultures and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

"Today [Tuesday], we also reaffirm our commitment to advancing truth, justice and reconciliation, as well as working together with Indigenous community members and leaders to ensure Toronto is a place where Indigenous people can thrive," he said.

With files from Angela Gemmill