Manasie was inspired to do this piece when what truly happened to our first nations peoples of Canada became public on a massive scale. He has many friends and family that were and are affected directly by these tragedies that happened.
To say that when the bodies of so many children were discovered buried in unmarked graves in this country had a profound effect on the artist is an understatement. To allow the healing process to begin in the psyche of this artist he will always channel the pain through his artwork. This piece flowed from him like a torrent river.
He feels strongly that not only are there unmarked graves on the land but also brings into question how many were just dumped into the rivers and lakes near to the residential schools.
Let us begin at the top of the sculpture, where the wolf is howling. The wolf is witnessing the whole story unfolding and lets out his cry for the Universe to hear the truth.
Then there is an Owl on one side of the vertebra and Owl is the symbol of wisdom and has the record from this tragic event in humanity’s history.
On the other side of the vertebra is a woman’s face with abalone tears falling down her face. The tears become larger on the main body of the piece falling down to the skeletons at the base of the sculpture. These tears are symbolizing FORGIVENESS.
To Manasie the Seal is a symbol of compassion. The Artist has had life experience with seals showing compassion towards humans. In this case the seal is diving to the bottom of the body of water and finding skeletons of children and sending a message in the bubbles to the grieving woman. Look closely at the faces inside the bubbles.
On the side with the woman holding the newborn and surrounded by other children he is showing the continuation of life. The newborn signifies a New Beginning that will happen through the FORGIVENESS, FORGIVENESS for this unthinkable act of cruelty. All of the children are singing in one voice for the children that have died, while the drum dancer plays his drum. In Inuit culture before colonization it was tradition that a Drum Dancer would be present at all gatherings. This tradition is being revived by the younger generations and Manasie honors this here and through his own drumming as a Drum Dancer as well.
– Manasie Akpaliapik, as recorded by Annie Akpaliapik, September, 2021
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