APTN National News
An Indigenous artist based out of Calgary is hoping her politically charged artwork will actually change an old law still on the books in Canada.
Lee Deranger’s latest creation is bringing to light a law established more than 200 years ago.
It features the flag of Nova Scotia nailed to barn wood along with three bloody scalps. Spray painted underneath are the words ‘Reconcile This.’
“Reconcile this? Well, how do you reconcile it?” said Deranger. “How do Canadians reconcile the fact that there is a scalp law in the books?”
Her art represents a 268-year-old scalp law that is still on the books in Nova Scotia. Made before Nova Scotia was a province and before Canada was even a country, the law was a British proclamation made in 1749.
It offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq People.
“The roots of the problems we have in this country with children’s programs, women’s programs, missing and murdered women. how much of that is generational dating back to women’s and children’s scalps in the 1700s?”
Deranger first learned about the scalp law after living on the East coast and hearing people talk about it. She was inspired to create the piece of art after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report in 2015.
“It always stuck in my head that we live in a country where my nieces who have Mi’kmaq heritage are growing up in a province that offers a bounty for their scalps.”
Deranger said the three scalps represent the British crown, the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia.
All three refused to take responsibility for the law when chiefs asked for it to be taken down in 1999.
But this year she hopes that her artwork will cause enough national embarrassment to once and for all take the law out of the books.
“It’s time for this country to get real about reconciliation. We’ve been erased from the history books. People don’t know about our history, they don’t know about their own history.”
It’s not only a battle that the Mikmaq has to fight, but it’s also an issue that affects the whole country, said Deranger.
“We need to let the Mikmaq know that the rest of the country is ready to stand behind them in a really reconciliation effort. It’s 2017, it’s the country’s 150th birthday and we have this huge effort to reconcile history. Let’s do it.”