Wabanaki/People of the Dawn flag raised at the Owens Art Gallery on Orange Shirt Day
SACKVILLE, NB – Mount Allison University held a ceremonial flag raising outside the Owens Art Gallery on September 30 to commemorate Orange Shirt Day and celebrate a newly commissioned acquisition by Mi’kmaq artist Pauline Young.
The flag, titled Wabanaki/People of the Dawn, is a bespoke appliqué sewn nylon flag. It is the first in a new series of commissioned acquisitions created for the Owens’ exterior flagpole.
“The Owens is located in Siknikt, one of the seven districts of Mi'kma'ki. This project is intended to serve as an ongoing land acknowledgement,” says Gallery Curator and Director Emily Falvey. “We are honoured to have Pauline’s work as our first flag in the series, which will be celebrated annually with a new work.”
Featuring two figures in a birchbark canoe paddling from sunrise to sunset, the Wabanaki/People of the Dawn flag represents the Mi'kmaq territory of Mi'kma'ki as a living relationship between land and sea.
“We are all connected and I want this flag to be a symbol of peace and happiness, one of healing,” says Young. “In my art, I look to the work of my dad, who was a painter, for inspiration and to honour our family’s traditions of storytelling. I am honoured to have my work flown at Mount Allison and to be a part of this project.”
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.
Young also announced her selection the 2021 artist for the Owens flag project series. Each year the featured artist will chose an artist to design the following year’s flag. Young selected Natasha Patles from Eel Ground First Nation to design the 2021 flag. All flags and designs will become part of the Owens Art Gallery’s permanent collection and will be on display every five years, as part of the Gallery’s exhibition calendar.
“We are thrilled to hear that Natasha Patles will be designing the flag for 2021. Natasha is a talented artist from Eel Ground First Nation with a Diploma in Fine Craft and Applied Design from New Brunswick College of Craft and Design,” says Falvey. “We look forward to working with her on this important collaborative project.”
The flag is the second commemorative artwork from Young on the Mount Allison campus. On October 1, 2019 – Treaty Day — She Lights the Way, a stained-glass red dress was unveiled in the University’s Wallace McCain Student Centre as a memorial to Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The flag project was initiated on the occasion the Owens’ 125th anniversary and the acquisition was made with funds from the Ruth Lockhart Eisenhauer Art Fund. Wabanaki/People of the Dawn is also featured in the Gallery’s latest virtual exhibition, You Are Here — Seeing Sackville through the Owens Art Gallery Collection: An Alternate Guide to Sackville, New Brunswick.
Photos (credit: Mathieu Léger): Wabanaki/People of the Dawn flag by Pauline Young, which was unveiled at the Owens Art Gallery on the Mount Allison University campus on Sept. 30. The flag flies over the Gallery and is also part of the Gallery’s permanent collection.
Pauline Young, centre, speaks at the unveiling of her work, Wabanaki/People of the Dawn, on the Mount Allison campus on Sept. 30. Also pictured are: Emily Falvey, director/curator of the Owens, left, and Dr. Andrea Colfer, Elder and Mount Allison honorary degree holder, right, are also pictured.