In the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Final Report and the ongoing rediscovery of residential school cemeteries, Canada is currently grappling with the legacy of its’ genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples and what it means to engage in meaningful reconciliation.
To many, Reconciliation at this time includes re-establishing good relationships with the Land, grounding ourselves in a healthy worldview that sees humans as dependent upon and responsible for the well-being of plants, animals, insects, water, and air. Honoring this concept are the signatories and supporters of the Buffalo Treaty, Indigenous nations and NGO’s that affirm our ancient relationship with bison and welcome them back to their homelands. The Treaty 7 nations of southern Alberta have signed the Buffalo Treaty and have been involved in the recent re-introduction of small numbers of bison to Banff National Park, Waterton National Park, and the Blood Reserve.
In this spirit, Source of Life celebrates the interconnectedness of the pre-settlement foothills landscape when buffalo fulfilled their role as a keystone species and supported a vast web of life on the North American plains including thriving Indigenous societies. Local youth contributed their handprints in orange paint, in solidarity with the survivors and victims of Canada’s Residential School system and to signify a future filled with positive relationships. This artwork was created in consultation with, and the help of, the Oilfields High School Grades 10-11 Art Class (2021-22), with support of STEPS 2021 – 2022 CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency, The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and Rona Black Diamond, and installed with the gracious permission of the Foothills Family Medical Clinic.