Striking, kaleidoscopic art was unveiled at the Alberta legislature on Monday morning ahead of the throne speech.
“These stunning works of art by Alex Janvier will forever honour the past and present contributions of Indigenous peoples to our province and serve as reminders to all members of the legislative assembly that we must never lose sight of our ultimate duty, which is to ensure the decisions we make on behalf of our constituents create positive and meaningful change in the lives of all Albertans, presently and for generations to come,” said Speaker Robert Wanner.
“It provides an additional missing piece of history that has not been reflected in this chamber: the Indigenous history of our province, the first keepers of this land.”
The work was commissioned by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) for its centennial and gifted to the legislature.
“Alex is a world leader in Indigenous art, and we felt it was important for his work and artistic voice to have a presence in our legislature,” said AUPE president Guy Smith.
“When Albertans look upon Sunrise and Sunset in the chamber, we hope they’re reminded of all the hard-working people throughout the province. Day and night, Albertans are hard at work providing the services we all depend on, and their tireless contributions have made our province an amazing place to live and work.”
Art galleries have been exhibiting Janvier’s work since 1964, and he has received numerous awards, including the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Order of Canada.
He’s known for his abstract style and bright colour combinations, playing with traditional Indigenous art and contemporary techniques. His murals can be seen in many public buildings, including Sherwood Park’s County Hall, the Canadian Museum of History and Rogers Place, where a 14-metre diameter mosaic adorns the floor.
When Janvier took the podium on Monday, he spoke softly and slowly, saying it was an honour to be asked to do something special for the “place where they do the talking.”
“Illuminate a little bit of this place of noisy speakers — on both sides,” he said to chuckles from the chamber.
Janvier, a Denesuline from Cold Lake First Nations, thanked the assembly for accepting his art.
“We need partnership and we need a connection.”
He finished his speech to a standing ovation.