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Pauline Young: Wabanaki/People of the Dawn


15 October 2020 - 20 December 2020


15 October 2020
20 December 2020

Works by

Pauline Young
A brightly coloured flag flies against a cloudy sky. The image on the flag features two suns, one yellow and one red, and two figures paddling a canoe.

Pauline Young: Wabanaki/People of the Dawn

About this exhibition

Wabanaki/People of the Dawn is the first in a new series of commissioned flags created for the Owens Art Gallery’s exterior flagpole. Designed by artist Pauline Young, the flag features two figures in a birchbark canoe paddling from sunrise to sunset and represents the territory of Mi’kma’ki as a living relationship between land and sea. In the artist’s words, “Land and sea, from sunrise to sunset, it is all Mi’kma’ki.” Pauline Young is a respected Mi’kmaq visual artist from Metepenagiag First Nation. In her work, she draws inspiration from the natural environment and the legacy of her father, Philip Young, a renowned artist who exposed her to art at a very young age. Employing a variety of media, including painting, drawing, and stained-glass, her artistic practice carries forward both family and cultural traditions of storytelling and image-making.

Installed on the roof of the Owens Art Gallery, which is located in a nineteenth-century, beaux-arts building, Wabanaki/People of the Dawn is an important assertion of Mi’kmaq sovereignty. Every year, the Owens will commission a Mi’kmaq artist to design a new flag for both the flagpole and its permanent collection. Two flags will be made each time: one for the wind and one for the vaults. These flags are sewn, not printed, so that the labour of their makers is physically apparent. Every five years, the gallery will exhibit the flags together, the weather-beaten ones next to their partners from the vaults. This project thus serves as an ongoing land acknowledgement that honours the L’nuk (Mi’kmaq) as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceeded lands upon which the Owens was built. To keep this project grounded in community, each artist who designs a flag will nominate the artist for the following year.

A brightly coloured flag flies above a stone building with classical architectural features.