Indigenous artist Obomsawin honoured with Toronto art show

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TORONTO —
Alanis Obomsawin can’t help but get emotional as she reflects on how the treatment of Indigenous people has changed over the years.

“To see our people respected, and see they count, it’s a very different time,” the longtime artist and filmmaker told CTV National News.

Obomsawin has used her work to grow the fight for social justice and change for decades. She’s best known for her documentaries, such as those about the Oka Crisis in 1990 where she went behind the scenes of the violent land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Quebec.

The 89-year-old’s life has been filled with numerous projects, including 54 films made in 54 years, as well as engravings and songwriting.

Now, an outdoor show of light and sound created by Metis filmmaker Terril Calder beams Obomsawin’s etchings and projects her voice outside of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “The sound was very good. It was on the street, and everybody could hear.”

The installation, called “Seeds,” was created in honour of Obomsawin’s work, which has earned her an appointment to the Order of Canada in 2019 and the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize in 2020, which came with $100,000.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine that such an honour would be given to me.”

Her latest film, titled “Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair,” is about residential school survivors and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

The multi-talented artist also wrote and recorded the song featured in “Seeds.”

“This is a very special chant to me that is very important in terms of clean water,” she said.

“Seeds” will be showcased at the Royal Ontario Museum until Oct. 17, after which it will tour nationally and internationally.

A book featuring the artist’s etchings, “Dream Visions: The Art of Alanis Obomsawin,” which was the inspiration behind the museum installation, will be released next month. 

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