“The Coming Spring” Reconciliation Commemorative Artwork Unveiled in Victoria Park
“The Coming Spring” by accomplished Canadian artist, Gordon Reeve, was unveiled in Victoria Park today. The work was commissioned by the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the City, with funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 Fund. It was developed with extensive input from the community and guidance from Elders and Indian residential school survivors.
The artwork’s creation is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action No. 79: Participate in a strategy to commemorate the contributions and history of Aboriginal peoples to Canada.
“The Government of Canada is committed to working on meaningful and lasting reconciliation,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “As we marked Canada 150 in 2017, it was important to consider and learn about all the events that shaped our country, including some of the darker chapters in our history. It is through telling and experiencing these stories—our stories—that we learn from each other, reconcile ourselves with the past, and move toward a future together. The Coming Spring: Where Our Paths Cross reconciliation commemorative artwork will bring together Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians to remember, learn, and share, and will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.”
“We are honoured to have had the opportunity to work on this significant art project for the past two years with our partners,” says Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand. “We acknowledge that a lot of work has been done and still needs to be done in regards to healing the past, but with this present era of Reconciliation, we are all working towards the same goal to move ahead and improve the quality of life for our entire community.”
The 27-foot tall arch and two spires are constructed entirely of stainless steel that reflects the sun and moon. The longer 47-foot spire, pointing north, symbolically represents the First Nations’ long history. The 39-foot spire, pointing south, symbolically represents the history of the Métis Nation. Suspended high on each spire are moving chimes. The rustling and bell-like sounds the chimes make suggest the voices of children heard at a distance, representing the children taken by the residential system from all of the communities in Treaty Six Territory.
“Our paths cross in Reconciliation Circle as we unveil ‘The Coming Spring’ commemorative art project,” says Shirley Isbister, President of the Central Urban Métis Federation Incorporated. “The artist, Gordon Reeve, has brought a true spirit of community inclusion into this monumental piece. The jingles will ring out the voices of children, women, families, and our diverse community.”
“The Coming Spring” is located within Reconciliation Circle in Victoria Park, north of the festival site and east of Spadina Crescent West. The location was identified by First Nations and Métis Elders as having particular significance because it has been the site of two reconciliation gatherings, is large enough to accommodate community events, and has a view of the park, trees, and South Saskatchewan River.
“‘The Coming Spring’ makes a meaningful statement at this beautiful location on our cherished riverbank in Reconciliation Circle at Victoria Park,” says Mayor Charlie Clark. “This sculpture creates an opportunity for present and future generations to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going as a city, a city where the paths have crossed between First Nations, Métis, and generation after generation of immigrants seeking a good life here, free from persecution. This year, as thousands gather in Reconciliation Circle on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the messages of reconciliation and committing ourselves to a stronger future together will be even more poignant because of this piece of art.”
Since 2015, the City has been working with the Saskatoon Tribal Council; Central Urban Métis Federation Incorporated; Office of the Treaty Commissioner; and other community groups, leaders, and institutions in Saskatchewan to promote reconciliation.
Residents are reminded that the third annual “Rock Your Roots” Walk for Reconciliation and National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations take place tomorrow, June 21, in Victoria Park.
For more information on “The Coming Spring” and other public artwork, please visit saskatoon.ca/publicart.