by: Audrey Arsenault
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the thread of discoveries of thousands of children’s bodies in total found around former residential schools in Canada. Creating this gut-wrenching work felt like the best way for me, as an Indigenous person, to process this unthinkable news. The assimilated little girl at the bottom acts as an extension of myself: if it were only a few decades ago, I could have been in this horrid situation. She looks straight at the viewer with wide eyes that say “please help me.” The evil grinning nun, with her claw like hand over the poor child’s mouth is meant to show suppression, how Indigenous children were brutally punished for speaking their own languages. The Royal Canadian Mountie has his back turned to demonstrate this irony: how these awful acts of cruelty done to Indigenous people were ignored by these so-called heroes. The way that the maple leaf on the Mountie’s sleeve is upside down and torn in half shows how disorganized my country’s morals are. I made the layout of Ethnocide to have a historical resemblance, however this piece was created in the hopes that my country of Canada can do better in the future. We can learn from the past to start treating one another fairly in the contemporary era. I used the ancient metalsmithing technique of chasing and repoussé to hammer these three low relief figures into copper, and mounted the piece onto maple wood.