the palings of the stockade, as are several towering White Spruce. Blueish wood smoke drifts up and off toward the Peace Tower of the federal Parliament buildings, which is also flying a flag.
The dialogue between First Nations and Canada's government has begun, with the Prime Minister Harper meeting with a number of chiefs in the Assembly of First Nations last week, but Chief Spence is determined to continue her hunger strike until the Prime Minister agrees to meet with herself and the Governor General to discuss the treaties between native peoples and the Crown. The Governor General, as representative of the Queen in Canada, doesn't actually have much decision making power, but it is important to revisit the roots of the relationship between nations. The historic treaties were made with the Crown - a relationship in perpetuity with Canada, and discussion of them should be impartial and free from party policy.
I believe that Canada should be free from party policy. How can the lands and the waters and the peoples - indeed all species - be represented by political parties whose members are subject to party policy in spite of their personal beliefs or those of their constituents? Perhaps this dialogue that the First Nations demand is the very beginning of a transition to fairness - toward a sustainable future. Now we must all be willing to lay aside our differences in favour of the greater good, which must be measured by health and diversity, not dollars and cents.
This scene is not far from the spot where I painted Rideau Falls, but looking in the opposite direction. I have taken liberties in the composition - two important elements are at the far edges of the painting. The totem pole is at the far left, and the clock tower and flag of the government of Canada is at the far right. This works in a symbolic way even though some may criticize it as compositionally awkward. The fact is, this is how it looks here! I very much want to include both vertical shapes as separate cultural statements.... but from the standpoint of this view of the stockade, the totem pole and the government building are very far apart! I hope it may not always be so....
I try to paint each tiny flag so that it may be recognized, even the one way up on the top of the Peace Tower. We are all here in one place, many nations. Let there be no hidden agendas. Twice this afternoon I've heard drums and singing, but everything is quiet now. As the evening steals my light away I pack up and approach the compound, entering on the side where I've seen people going in all afternoon. As soon as I step inside the gate I'm in the glow of a campfire circled by a wide ring of benches where a few men sit and stand and talk. Beyond them the lights of Ottawa twinkle over the partly frozen river. Sheltered by a blue tarp in front of the huge tipi a group of women sit around another fire. These must be caregivers of Chief Spence. A man with a long whispy black beard greets me and I show him my painting. "It's good."
Dear patrons and supporters,
This painting is for sale by auction to support our work on the 30 Years Later project, as we revisit places we studied over the past three decades. If you would like to purchase it, please send your bid to me Bidding is open for one week from posting date, ending on 25 January at 4:18 pm eastern daylight time. The starting price is $250.