Sonny Assu | Interdisciplinary Artist | sonnyassu.com

Ellipsis

Ellipsis, by definition, simply means an omission of something that would be commonly understood to be known. In contrast to that, the 136 copper LPs act as a conceptual ‘record’ for the [as of 2012] 136 years of the Indian Act. The act itself is a tool used to oppress, segregate or assimilate the indigenous people and is rarely understood or known by Canadians.

 

This work became a response to Duncan Campbell Scott’s quote about the “Indian problem” in Canada.

 

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone... Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” - Duncan Campbell Scott, Head of the Department of Indian Affairs, (1913-1932)

 

I feel that this act, even though not understood or known about, has bred a historical, often bigoted view of Indigenous people. Most recently, we only need to look to states-of-emergency declared by various First Nations across the country to see the ramifications of this act and the historical hate placed upon the people.

The upside down, abstracted equalizer pattern indicates the silence or the omission of the oppressive act from our collective Canadian consciousness.

 

The work was inspired by the recordings of Chief Billy Assu (and other Chiefs from the Northwest Coast) by Dr. Ida Halpern between 1947-1953. She recorded over 300 tracks of potlatch and traditional songs during the latter years of the potlatch ban. I found in interesting that, during that ban, my Great-Great-Grandfather was allowed to sing these songs for the sake of anthropological preservation, but he was unable to legally practice the culture outside of these recording sessions. 

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