‘More Cancel Culture Nonsense’

This has implications, both for artistic expression and the authoritarian way this decision is being made. You can never have total consensus about anything. Is that sufficient to deny a work to be published or work to go up into public space?

“The City {government of Edmonton} has decided against installing a pair of commissioned sculptures at the Walterdale Bridge. The artwork is a pair of bronze sculptures. One is of a bison, the other of a fur trader. The piece was intended to highlight Edmonton’s role in the history of fur trading

A pair of sculptures commissioned for the Walterdale Bridge will not be installed by the city. (Ken Lum-CTV)

“According to a statement from the City issued on Wednesday, the decision was made not to install them because of the potential that the artwork could be misinterpreted as a celebration of ‘colonization’ {‘modernization’}.

Through the City’s previous experiences, such as the coordination of the removal of Government Centre LRT Station murals {See below}, we listened to {a handful of members of} the community and the sharing of their ‘discomfort’ and ‘pain’ that the artwork caused“,

the statement reads.

This demonstrated the importance of listening and acting from the principle of ‘do no harm’, to mitigate negative impacts to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ {Canadian Aboriginals are ‘Indigenous’ to Mongolia and Siberia} that have experienced the ‘harms’ associated with ‘colonization’ and loss of culture, language, and spiritual practices”,

the city added.

{The majority chose – and still choose – Christianity, according to Census data.}

“Artist Ken Lum was commissioned to do the pieces in 2012 through the city’s ‘Percent for Art Program’. The cost of the sculptures was $375,000, and they were completed in 2016, according to the city.

“Lum sent the following written statement to CTV News Edmonton about the city’s decision:

The work went through enormous oversight and approval from civic officials. It is not as though the work appeared in a vacuum. Perhaps the city is not ready for a real dialogue about its colonial past and the conditions of ‘coloniality’ that continue to mark the present. That was my intention with the work: not to celebrate colonialism as the city suggests.”

“Native studies and art and design professor Tanya Harnett says the sculptures should be installed.

I can see that this artist did his homework. He did some research”,

she told CTV News Edmonton.

You can’t have things just edited out; there’s a problem with doing that sort of thing, and it’s a denial.”

“The fur trader would have been positioned near a known ‘Indigenous’ {sic} burial ground at Rossdale Flats, but neither the city nor the Edmonton Arts Council can explain what the problem is with the sculptures.

The overall piece was something that was flagged as ‘potentially harmful’, and that’s, that’s all there is to it at this point”,

said David Turnbull of Edmonton Arts Council.

We and the city take a stance of ‘do no harm.’” {?}

“Harnett thinks the sculptures will spark an important conversation about the city’s history.

The subject matter may be difficult for some {?}, but it’s not really, it’s not difficult. It’s just Edmonton history.”

“The City has asked the Edmonton Arts Council to start the process of removing the art from the city’s collection. The sculptures could either end up back with the artist or in a museum.”

–‘City will not install commissioned Walterdale Bridge sculptures’,

Karyn Mulcahy, CTV News Edmonton, Aug. 24, 2022, Updated Aug. 26, 2022


‘I don’t really see how a picture based on an infamous photograph could be interpreted as an affirmation of colonialism.’ (Photograph-Ken Lum-The Guardian)

“A Canadian city has pulled a public art project over fears that a pair of towering bronze statues could be seen as an endorsement of ‘colonialism’ – the exact opposite of the work’s intended meaning, according to the artist.

“The work, which cost C$375,000 (US$285,000), comprises two large bronze figures which were intended to stand on either end of a pedestrian bridge in Edmonton. On one end, a 13ft. bison was to stare out over the water. At the other, a colonial fur trader, measuring 11.5ft., would sit atop a pile of bison pelts.

“But 12 years after they were first commissioned – and six years after they were completed, the capital of Alberta announced last week it was shelving plans to display the sculptures.

While some audiences may find the artwork thought-provoking, for others it may cause ‘harm’ and induce ‘painful memories’ {for any surviving buffalo hunters?}. For this reason, it is not considered ‘inclusive’ to all Edmontonians”,

the city said in a news release.

“The artist responsible for the sculptures, Ken Lum, said that after waiting for years to see his statues unveiled, he had been blindsided by the decision.

This has implications, both for artistic expression and the authoritarian way this decision is being made. You can never have total consensus about anything. Is that sufficient to deny a work to be published or work to go up into public space?

“Lum, chair of the department of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, said the sculpture of the trader was based on a famous photograph depicting a similar scene that was taken not long before the collapse of the bison population.

“In the mid-to-late 1800s, the plains bison, a once-plentiful food staple for ‘Indigenous’ {sic, North American Aboriginals are ‘Indigenous’ to Mongolia and Siberia} communities, were hunted to near extinction by colonial settlers {Nonsense. Most were killed off by disease contracted from cattle}. The hunt was driven both by profit and the broader political end of subjugating ‘Indigenous’ communities.

For people crossing the bridge, I wanted them to experience a palpable tension through the uneasy gaze from one to another”, {?}

Lum said.

I don’t really see how a picture based on an infamous photograph, taken at the height of the buffalo slaughter, could be interpreted as an affirmation of colonialism. Neither the city nor the Arts Council has explained this to me. That would be nice and courteous of them. I’m all ears”,

Lum said.

“A spokesperson for the city cited a better understanding of the “historical injustices on ‘Indigenous’ peoples” as factoring into the decision, which came as Canada continues to wrestle with the ‘dark legacy’ of colonialism.

“Lum, who is part of ‘Monument Lab’, a US-based non-profit that studies how history is told in the public landscape, said he met with ‘Indigenous’ elders throughout the process and consulted with communities.

“But Lewis Cardinal, a member of the ‘Wicihitowin Talking Circle’ which advised the city of Edmonton and ‘Edmonton Arts Council’, said the bison was not a fitting symbol of the region’s past. Cardinal said that beaver pelts – not bison – had been the principal driver of the region’s economy.

If you’re going to have ‘Indigenous’ consultations, you have to actually listen”,

he told CTV News.

The ‘Indigenous’ groups signed off on the project, but Lum saw shortcomings in the consultations… Of the questions he received about the work, a handful were why an ‘Indigenous’ artist hadn’t been commissioned {They couldn’t find any Mongolian or Siberian artists who spoke English?}. Lum pointed out the requirement for the commission required a background in engineering and infrastructure, which narrowed the pool of candidates {!}.

“The city’s position has sparked a bigger conversation about public art, history and meaning. While Edmonton has pulled the plug on Lum’s work, a statue of Winston Churchill is set to be erected in the city of Calgary.

Anything placed in public space is going to have a range of responses, based on literacy, and so many other factors”,

said Lum.

But I believe that art should be challenging. And that challenge includes the demand on the public to actually invest in trying to interpret the work and invest in trying to read the work.

It’s a shame [the city] chose to frame it a certain way, because I think the dialogue that would have ensued by my work would have been quite useful and productive for all.”

–‘Canadian city pulls bison sculpture in row over representation of colonialism’,

Leyland Cecco, The Guardian, 2 Sept. 2022


See also:

Mural depicting residential school system and Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin was covered on Tuesday June 8, 2021. (PHOTO – LARRY WONG-Postmedia)

Cancelling Bishop Grandin{Sept.9, 2022}:

“The ‘City of Edmonton’ is planning to remove murals depicting the residential school system from the Government Centre LRT station later this fall. The murals have been covered by orange {The NDP’s colour} panelling since city council voted unanimously in favour of obscuring them and removing the reference in the LRT station’s name to Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin, who was an advocate for the residential school system…”



1 Comment

  1. It’s perplexing to me how Canadian “aboriginal” people, comprising about 5 to 6% of our Canadian population, became the final arbiters on what is acceptable for the rest of us. They have somehow imbued us with collective guilt. They have somehow bullied spineless politicians and the “woke” mob to accept their narrative of revisionist history. Those myths are vital though, to their lawyers in the Courts and to perpetuating the victimhood industry. However, there is no credible evidence supporting their contentions of “first peoples”, Turtle Island, “native ways of knowing”, universal abuse in residential schools, the veracity of oral recounting, intergenerational trauma and the many other tenets fundamental to their popular, self-serving narrative.

    There were, at one time, many distinct cultures here. Some have idealized the pre-contact history for aboriginals as utopian. The credible evidence indicates that their lives were most often bleak, hazardous and short. European settlers initiated a largely beneficial transformation. All cultures arise, persist for a time and then fade away. With over 300 years of sharing our Canadian experience behind us, I believe DNA testing and the ubiquity of modern technologies suggest assimilation happened some time ago. All Canadians came here from elsewhere. Any distinctions made between Canadians cannot be a matter of the timing of arrival. That would be arbitrary and discriminatory.


Thank you from ERBL inc. Canada

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