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News in Brief: First Nations Artwork Discarded in Montreal

A cleaning mix up damaged an artwork, Calgary’s mayor addressed a public-art controversy and winners of a major student photo prize were announced

Our editors’ weekly roundup of Canadian art news.

A city of Montreal employee mistakenly discarded an artwork dedicated to missing and murdered Indigenous women at the First Peoples’ Festival. The wooden artwork, La femme de la nuit hibou, was created by Atikamekw artist Jacques Newashish and was slated for a symbolic burning at the Place des Festivals during a ceremony on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the city said the incident is the result of a blunder: the city was asked to clean up wood chips on the site, and since the totem was surrounded by wood chips, the artwork was disposed of as well.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi addressed the debate surrounding the controversial Bowfort Towers installation, which drew the ire of Indigenous groups in Calgary for its resemblance to Blackfoot burial scaffolds. He told CTV News that the backlash exposes problems with the city’s public art process, which should include more public consultation in the future. He said, however, that the backlash was “unfair,” and likened it to a “lynch mob.” The city abided by the Indigenous policy consultation, Nenshi said: “There was not just a traditional knowledge keeper, but a particularly skilled knowledge keeper whose expertise is in Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism who had been consulted on this particular project.”

Three members of the Sobey family will receive the Canadian Red Cross’s 2017 Humanitarian Award for Nova Scotia, which seeks to recognize philanthropy. Paul, Frank and Rob Sobey were selected among nominations from the public. The family’s business grew from a single store in Stellarton, NS, in 1912 to more than 1,500 stores across Canada. The family also founded the Sobey Art Award, an annual prize that supports Canadian contemporary artists, awarding $50,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of four finalists.

The Aimia AGO Photography Prize announced the 2017 recipients of its scholarship program in a press release on Wednesday. The winners are Seamus Gallagher of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University; Curtiss Randolph of Ryerson University; and Alessandro Seccareccia of Concordia University. The jurists narrowed 100 applicants down to a shortlist of 15, then awarded $7,000 to each of three finalists to go toward tuition for their final year of undergraduate study. The jurists were Toronto-based photographer Sandra Brewster and AGO photography curators Julie Crooks and Sophie Hackett.

TIFF announced the lineup for its experimental Wavelengths programming in a press release on Tuesday. The 40 titles are curated by Andréa Picard, and will feature a wide range of works, including Narimane Mari’s Bloody Beans, a 3-D feature called PROTOTYPE by Toronto-based Wavelengths alumnus Blake Williams, and Neïl Beloufa’s Occidental. Wavelengths will also feature short films by Sara Cwynar and Francesco Gagliardi as well as filmmakers included in this year’s Whitney Biennial like Dani Leventhal and Sheilah Wilson, Kevin Jerome Everson and Sky Hopinka.

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