Learn about First Nations and Métis artists who have contributed to the County’s art collection. Through these artworks, the artists generously share stories and reflect on language, culture, reconciliation, our history, and more.

Nabe Gduzahan (Broken fingers) 

Eugene Alexis

 

Painting of a clearing in a forest. In the foreground, a man scrapes flesh from a hide. In the background: two people sitting on a blanket on the ground, meat drying over a fire, and two wall tents.

Eugene Alexis
Young Man in Red Cap, 2021
Acrylic, airbrush, oil on canvas
 

Eugene Alexis is a Stoney Nakada from Alexis #133 Indian Reserve, located in Treaty No. 6 Territory. He lives on the shores of Wakamne (God' s Lake), also known as Lac Ste Anne. Eugene is a fluent speaker, translator, transcriber and curriculum developer of the Alexis Stoney Nakoda Language. He has been teaching Stoney Nakada over 25 years and gives thanks to the Creator for his Identity, language and culture.

In 1990, Eugene started working as a Teacher Assistant at the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation elementary school. Throughout his career, he worked with the Director of Education, community elders, political and cultural leaders documenting and preserving their Stoney Nakada language. Eugene also received his Linguistics training at the University of Alberta In 2016, he received accreditation from the Cwiadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute and is a certified Stoney Nakada Language Expert. Over his 25 year career, as a Stoney Nakada Language Teacher, Eugene helped his community develop a Stoney Language Dictionary, and the Stoney Language Curriculum (Secondary: K-12) and Post-Secondary Level 1.

In 2018, Eugene was moved from the School and Into the Alexis Heritage & Language Department with a mandate to expand the Stoney Language program into the Nation. Eugene works as a Director of Language. He continues to work with Alexis Elders, Political and Cultural leaders to protect and maintain his Stoney Nakoda Language.

Outside of this community Eugene also serves on an Elders board at Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton Alberta. He also serves on the Board for Parks Canada and is currently working with Jasper National Park transcribing and providing content for a unique Indigenous Project. In 2020, Eugene moved into virtual teaching and started instructing Stoney Nakoda Language online for both Community and Post-Secondary Students. In 2019, he established a partnership with the Yellowhead Tribal College, (a post-secondary institution, owned and operated by YTC Four Bands: Alexis, Alexander, O' Chiesa and Sunchild.) to teach Stoney Nakoda. The college is located in Edmonton, Treaty No. 6 Territory and provides academic programs to Indigenous Students.

Eugene was traditionally named after his late grandfather, Chief Joseph Alexis and his late great-great grandfather Aranazhi, Chief Alexis who signed Treaty for the Alexis Tribe and was also known by the Cree as Klskiyciciy or Nabe Gduzahan in Stoney Nakada Language.
 

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Bruno Canadien

 

Painting of a flower on a blue background with vertical stripes. Long, multi-coloured ribbons hang from the bottom.
Bruno Canadien
Rita Therese, 2020
Acrylic, satin ribbon on canvas
 

The paintings within the series, Mother Tongue/ Ehts’o Ket’a, 2020 draw on and celebrate the legacy of Madeline Canadien, Rita Coats, and Mary Elsie Canadien specifically, and other practitioners of Dene and Metı́s floral artwork generally, in beadwork, tufting, embroidery and quillwork. The original impetus for this work came in the form of 3 pairs of beaded moccasin tops, made by Setsų Héɂı and gifted to me posthumously by my Aunt Elsie, with the suggestion that I incorporate them into my practice. These beaded tops have come to symbolize my relationship with my grandmother: quiet, beautiful, yet tangible. Expanding the symbolism, and without exaggeration, Dene traditional artwork represents our love for family and our love for our land, Denendeh. It is this symbolism as well as Setsų’s designs that are at play in these paintings.

This work was made in honour of my matrilineal line, and is dedicated to my family and the Dene and Metı́s of the Dehcho. The design on this piece is after Madeline Canadien, and the painting is named for her younger sister, my great aunt.

Bruno Canadien is a Visual Artist whose multidisciplinary practice investigates Indigenous presence, kinship, and relationality in the contemporary colonial context, through painting, drawing, installation and walking. Bruno’s work has been included in national exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Biennale d’Art Contemporain Autochtone in Montreal. His paintings can be found in private and public collections, including Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Glenbow Museum, the Indigenous Art Centre, and Nickle Galleries.

Canadien is a member of the Deh Gah Got’ı́é Dene First Nation of Zhati Kǫ́ę́, Denendeh, a Deh Cho Region member of the Dene Nation. He is currently based in Black Diamond, Alberta, gratefully grounding himself in the landscapes and traditional territories of the Siksikaitsitapi, Tsuut’ina and Îethka Nakoda Wîcastabi nations.
 

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William Frymire

Large metal sculpture of a dragonfly and cattail.

William Frymire
Eyes on the Prize, 2020
Aluminum, coloured acrylic

Children and adults alike have enjoyed the giant silver dragonfly and 10 hidden silver mosquitos at the Ardrossan Spray Park and Playground. Sensitive to the importance of healthy natural ecosystems, William Frymire honours predatory dragonflies which are threatened around the world by the loss of wetland habitat.

Frymire is a celebrated Métis artists born in Prince Edward Island, now residing in Kamloops. Renowned for his devotion to using sustainable materials when creating his art pieces, Frymire’s artwork often honours the beauty of nature with messages of water and natural habitat conservation. Frymire has worked for several decades as a commercial artist, photographer, digital artist and designer. His exterior public artworks can be found in Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Fort Chipewyan and St. Albert. Frymire’s largest scale public artwork to date was installed in Kamloops - a large-scale mosaic of 80,000 tiles. This stunning artwork shimmers with the movement of the wind and sun conjuring the reflective quality of the Thompson River.

Learn more about William Frymire.

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Alex Janvier

 

Abstract images painted on spiral staircase

Alex Janvier
Tribute to Beaver Hills, 1976
Acrylic

Created in 1976, Tribute to Beaver Hills is the first of Alex Janvier’s murals to depict the distinctive abstraction that is recognizable in his work today. Often compared to calligraphy, beadwork, and modern abstract painting, Janvier’s flowing compositions reflect the colours and formations of the landscapes within which they are created.

Although the nuances between spoken and written words can be great, a summary of Janvier’s oral insight into the mural’s imagery may provide guidance:

Beginning at the top, under the domed skylight, the earliest stages of creation emerge: the formation of matter, earth, water, and single-celled organisms.

In the middle ring, powerful, spiritual beings take shape, followed by humans.

The third ring begins with people living in harmony with nature and spirits, and ends upon the arrival of European settlers, colonial violence, and industrialization.

The gap between the upper rings and spiral staircase signifies the severing of Indigenous ways of being, when ceremonies were forbidden, and Indigenous children were taken from their homes. 

From the upper perimeter of the staircase downwards, the aftermath of colonial violence unfolds in tandem with the quiet resistance, power, and re-emergence of the Indigenous people of Beaver Hills. 

Alex Janvier is an internationally recognized Denesųłiné artist from Cold Lake First Nations. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Order of Canada (2007), the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2008), and the Alberta Order of Excellence (2010). From 1973 to 1976, Janvier completed several murals through a partnership with Alberta architect Peter Hemingway, who considered Janvier’s murals to be the heart of the buildings he designed—including Strathcona County Hall. This three-story mural was Janvier’s first major commission within the Greater Edmonton Area.

Alex Janvier continues to create and exhibit his artwork at Janvier Gallery near Cold Lake, Alberta. Learn More about Alex Janvier

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Dawn Marie Marchand

Abstract images painted on spiral staircase

Dawn Marie Marchand
A Moment with the Land, 2020
Mixed media

Dawn Marie Marchand - cîpêhcakwawêw-iskwêw (Blue Horse Spirit Woman) is an educator, author, writer, speaker, mother, and is a member of Cold Lake First Nation in Treaty Six territory. In 2017, Marchand was the first Indigenous Artist-In-Residence for the City of Edmonton, and received an Aboriginal Role Model Award for her work. Marchand also produced major art installations for Nuit Blanche (“The Longest Journey”), the Edmonton Folk Festival (“Monto”), and, at Edmonton City Hall during the Truth and Reconciliation Gathering (“A Place to Hang Your Stories”).

A tireless advocate and community organizer, Marchand co-founded and led the Cree8 Success Conference; co-produced the Walrus Talks-Aboriginal City art components, known as “Edmonton Treaty 6 Soccer Ball”; and facilitated the Indigenous Artist Market Collective engagement and launch in 2018. In 2019, Marchand relocated to Smoky Lake, AB where she is working on establishing a gallery and studio space to help artists in the area access opportunities to grow their professional resumes.

In 2020, Marchand and artist Gary Sutton were commissioned to create three original works of art for the Strathcona Wilderness Centre Canoe Project. The Artists contributed one artwork each and collaborated on a third. The artworks were reproduced as waterproof vinyl decals, and now adorn three canoes at the Wilderness Centre. Inspired by Elder Wilson Bearhead's teachings, the project emphasizes that the land is not ours but borrowed from our ancestors, and it must be conserved for future generations.  

Learn more about Dawn Marie Marchand

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Allen Sapp

Commemorating the Life and Art of Allen Sapp, RCA (1928-2015) 
Children play hockey on a frozen pond

Allen Sapp
Using Old Ball for Puck, 1980
Acrylic on canvas 

Awarded the Order of Canada and membership in the distinguished circle of the Canadian Royal Academy of Arts, Sapp’s powerful, emotional, and sensitive paintings shed light on the life of the Canadian Northern Plains Cree and tell Sapp’s personal life story growing up on reserve. His work invites viewers to reflect upon the deprivation and poverty faced by Indigenous People but also reflects Sapp’s friendships, family, and the beauty of the natural landscape in Saskatchewan.

Born in 1928 on Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan in the middle of the tuberculosis epidemic, Sapp lost his mother at an early age.  Raised by his grandparents, Sapp’s paintings communicate his sense of affection for them and tender memories of his home. By 1945 the epidemic and economic depression had taken its toll on Allen's family; four of his seven brothers and sisters had died. By 1955, with his new wife, the deaths, Sapp's own poor health and poverty combined to encourage Sapp to move to North Battleford.

 

Man with a hunting rifle kneels in the snow in the woods.

Allan Sapp
Going to Shoot the Rabbit, 1980
Acrylic on canvas 

Never receiving formal training in art, Sapp’s perseverance to make a living with his artwork is inspiring. In 1966, at age 38, Sapp’s fortune changed with the accidental meeting of art aficionado Dr. Allan Gonor. Allan Gonor encouraged Sapp to “paint what he knew” – paint from his life and his memories, rather than calendar-idyllic scenes of mountains and animals. Gonor became Sapp’s patron, buying Sapp’s work, providing further funds for supplies, and introducing a circle of art professionals to Sapp’s artwork including the Directors of the Winnipeg and Mendel Art Galleries.

Three years later, in 1969, the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon opened its doors to a solo-exhibition of Sapp’s artwork. In one weekend, 13,000 viewers passed through the gallery and most of the 61 oils and acrylics had sold. An explosion of interest and fascination with Sapp's artwork resulted in exhibitions in London, England, New York, Los Angeles and most major cities in Canada. He was applauded by the public as a 20th century painter the public could relate to, and described by the art critics as a painter whose style created "illusionism so arresting as to constitute a revelation". (Daily Telegraph of London, 1969). 

Learn more about Allen Sapp’s life and artwork.

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Gary Sutton

Gary Sutton resided in Ardrossan until Redwood Meadows (AB) beckoned with new opportunities. He writes:

“My family and I lived in and love this area. We often spent time doing various activities throughout the Wilderness Centre, the Bateman Property, as well as Waskahegan/Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area…. There is a rich history to the Beaver Hills Cooking Lake Moraine … from the roll of pemmican, to the extinction of the Beaver and the fact that Beaver Hills, through the efforts of some very passionate people, holds a UNESCO Biosphere and Dark Sky Preserve….There were Plains Grizzly here, which were hunted to extinction by 1870. Trumpeter swans were extinct via over-hunting and have now been re-introduced through a program in Elk Island National Park, Plains Bison were hunted to extinction for various reasons and as they disappeared so did the Raven. Mule Deer are now rare, due to loss of habitat and over-hunting. The Beaver, whom this area was named by its first peoples was extinct by 1870 in order to supply pelts for hats of all things. They were re-introduced in Elk Island National Park in the 1940s… Conservation is imperative and happening here.”

Although Sutton received post-secondary art training in Illinois, he confesses his time was spent always searching for Canadian artistic representation in the United States. Deeply influenced by the artwork of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (known as the Indian Group of Seven including Alex Janvier), Sutton paints in a Woodland style with two dimensional imagery of the natural and spirit world. About his artwork, Sutton explains:

“This piece shows the connectedness of all things with a focus on the Beaver Hills Cooking Lake area. Notice the heart-like shape (not an accident) in the centre of the animals. This is its footprint.

Abstract painted imagery feature animals and flowers

Gary Sutton
The Place Rich in Beaver, 2020
Acrylic on canvas
 

There is growth and healing in this area, symbolized by the poplar tree roots embracing the footprint reaching up to its leaf and an off shoot rose hip. Both have been used a ‘traditional medicines’ in the past and present day.

The Ottertail style paddle coming out from the bottom of the ‘heart’ signifies the role of the Fur Trade. Without it, there probably would not have been the same urge to push west, settle and build forts for trade. The Voyageur, who would use this, and other types of paddles helped establish and create the Métis community in this area…We urge you to create your own relationship with the land here.”

Learn more about Gary Sutton.

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Susan Pointe
Public Art Curator, Strathcona County
(587) 335-4105
susan.pointe@strathcona.ca

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Page ID: 51043