David Garneau - On Discovering and Embracing His Métis Ancestry

I was thinking about Métis’ relationship to Canadian history, and so I was taking a couple of images of wrecked flags, Canadian flags that were torn up, (they’re hard to find because people tend to be respectful) but then I’d find a few. And then the Métis flags, and then I was just taking them. I didn’t know why I was taking them at all. And then I looked at a few photographs I’d taken from standing directly under the pole looking straight up, and a couple of photographs look like flowers. And just by glancing over the stack I thought, well, is that a flower? I don’t remember taking that. And I looked, and it turned out to be a flag. And I thought, well there’s an interesting metaphor, just like the flags have a life - they wear out and need to be replaced, national identity or Métis identity has to be renewed. You have to keep refreshing it. And a flower’s the same way. It’s fragile, it’s a concept, it’s an idea, it’s not something that’s permanent. You have to keep refreshing it. I found at Fort Carlton, a British flag and in Winnipeg near the Seven Oaks, there’s a gigantic American flag, and, I think, the Canadian flag came from Papaschase, which was a reserve right next to Edmonton, Fort Edmonton, and it was just expropriated by the settlers there around the same time as my grandfather…Anyhow, I thought that would be fitting because now it’s an industrial park, and it’s still called Papaschase. So I got these three flags to sort of signify that trail. And so for the Métis people, like our family came from Red River [and] would have come through Fort Carlton and then to Edmonton, it sort of marked this transit. And then you’re looking at them, and they’re evocative of flowers. They’re not twisted to look like tulips, per se, but you get the sense of this flowerness, and to me, I want to get the sense of the temporariness of nationality and those kind of identities. They’re fragile. But also some see [other things]. I think it was the British flag looks maybe like a question mark. People will read all kinds of things into these symbols, trying to understand what I’m saying.

Duration: 2:18 min
Size: 3762kb

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