We would like to acknowledge, honour, and pay respect to the traditional owners and custodians—from all four directions—of the land on which we live. It is upon the unceded, ancestral lands of L’nuk (the Mi’kmaq) that the partnership Umbrella Projects has come into existence. While this area is known as Sackville, New Brunswick, it is part of Siknikt, a district of the greater territory of Mi’kma’ki. This territory is covered by the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, which L’nuk, Wolastoqiyik, and Peskotomuhkati first signed with the British Crown in 1725.
Pauline Young’s Wabanaki/People of the Dawn is the first in a new series of commissioned acquisitions created for the Owens’ exterior flagpole. Featuring two figures in a birchbark canoe paddling from sunrise to sunset, the flag represents the Mi’kmaq territory of Mi’kma’ki as a living relationship between land and sea. In the artist’s words, “Land and sea, from sunrise to sunset, it is all Mi’kma’ki.” The Owens is located in Siknikt, one of the seven districts of Mi’kma’ki, and the flagpole project is intended to serve as an ongoing land acknowledgement. It was initiated on the occasion the Owens’ 125th anniversary and, every five years, an exhibition of the flags and their preparatory drawings will be held at the gallery.
Pauline Young is a respected Mi’kmaq visual artist from Metepenagiag First Nation. In her work, she draws inspiration from the natural environment and the legacy of her father, Philip Young, a renowned artist who exposed her to art at a very young age. Employing a variety of media, including painting, drawing, and stained-glass, her artistic practice carries forward both family and cultural traditions of storytelling and image-making.
Image: Pauline Young, Wabanaki/People of the Dawn, 2020, 91.4 x 152.4 cm, Bespoke appliqué sewn nylon flag. Collection of the Owens Art Gallery. Purchased with funds from the Ruth Lockhart Eisenhauer Art Fund.