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Image: submitted by City of Moncton

Indigenous artwork to be displayed at new policing headquarters

By Tara Clow May 23, 2024 | 12:29 PM

A public art piece for the new regional policing headquarters has been approved for $200, 000.

It’s called ‘Spirit of Reconciliation’ and is the first Indigenous installation under the City’s Percent for Public Art Policy, to a maximum of $200,000 per project.

Designed by Brian Francis, a Mi’kmaq artist from Elsipogtog, and Fredericton artist Jean Hudson, Spirit of Reconciliation includes a five-metre-long powder-coated steel and iron sculpture in the shape of a birch bark canoe. The bright red canoe will be lit from within to highlight cutouts of images inspired by consultation with elders and research on Mi’kmaq petroglyphs and ancient symbols.

“I commend the city of Moncton and Codiac Regional Police Authority for actually doing an act of reconciliation. For non-Indigenous society, it has a different meaning than what it is in our culture. In our culture, the term reconciliation is a sacred word, and when you translate it properly, it’s forgiveness. When you use the term reconciliation, you expect an action. So it’s more than just a word, more than just a policy, more than just a feel-good word, it’s actually something that we need to exchange.” Francis says.

Image: submitted by City of Moncton

He adds the canoe was their livelihood, their lifeline along the rivers, including the Petitcodiac River.

“The Spirit of Reconciliation is a reference to the era when Mi’kmaq traditions and ceremonies were not possible to practice. We felt it was important to call it the Spirit of Reconciliation. Because it acts as a spirit canoe because of what it signifies, because of what it represents.”

Francis adds the bright red colour is for impact and carries meaningful allusions. Red is the colour on the Indigenous Medicine Wheel signifying strength and power, but it also signifies medicine and healing. It is the colour that represents the many missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

He is hoping as people engage with the piece, building an understanding, healing, acknowledgement of past injustices, an appreciation of Indigenous resilience, and support in the quest for reconciliation.

The new regional policing facility is currently under construction on Albert Street.  The artwork will be displayed at the front of the facility.

It will be delivered and installed in the late spring of 2025 and officially unveiled in June next year.