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Shame if you miss Monkman’s take on prejudice

Shame and Prejudice:A Story of Resilience is now at the McCord Museum in Montreal and tells an unabashedly critical and cheeky history of Canada and its relationship with Indigenous people, as only Kent Monkman could. Miss Chief Eagle Testickle is here making a statement about appropriation of Indigenous imagery in sports among other things. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

Enter, pay, go to the second floor of the McCord Museum on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, and be amazed.

Cree artist Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience is a nine-chapter history of Canada told in painting, sculpture and other artistic forms that will leave visitors with a very different and complex history of Canada.

The Eastern Door and other media took a tour of the exhibit with Monkman, who explained his process, work, inspiration and intent behind the show.

Through his titular character Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, Monkman responds to colonial history and sexuality in the various work.

“She inhabits the non-binary place between the two genders, she’s a time traveller, and a legendary being,” said Monkman. “Her story keeps growing.”

Kent Monkman’s show travels back in time to the colonial period never shying from making a statement or multiple statements in each piece. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

She, for example, sits on an iconic Hudson’s Bay blanket naked but for a pair of designer heels before the “fathers of confederation” in a painting called “Daddies” at the beginning of the show. She appears throughout the nine time periods that go from colonization to confederation to residential schools to the modern streets of Winnipeg’s North End.

A memoire of Miss Chief Eagle Testickle is forthcoming from Monkman.

Each room brings comedy, tragedy, style and pain.

Monkman’s huge and brilliant painting “the Scream,” for example, depicts RCMP officers in full red uniforms snatching children from their homes to bring them to residential schools.

Surrounding the painting are cradleboards – some complete, some begun and some absent – hitting home the devastating reminder of those young ones lost or left changed forever by the Canadian government’s genocidal policy.

“I really wanted that moment to be about when that child is removed from the parent, and to focus on the emotional moment of what that meant and the violence of that,” said Monkman of “The Scream” reflecting on Canada’s residential schools policy. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

Monkman includes contemporary and historic work to complement his own, which set the historic chapters.

“The artist creates a really good dialogue between famous painters and modern art,” said 20-year-old journalism student at UQAM Laurence Thibeault. “It has a lot of historical reference, and it makes us think about actual subjects.”

The show has been touring Canada for two years and hosted at nine venues. The show was conceived in the lead-up to 2017 and the country’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

“This exhibition is my response to the Canada 150. It’s a critical eye on the colonial period, which really was 150 years since the signing of the treaties and confederation,” said Monkman.

Monkman worked with the McCord and a dozen museums across the country (“colonial art spaces” as he calls them), as he’s done in the past, and dug up materials, resources, and other objects, and as curator and artist, created the show.

“Museums have defined our history and it’s a shared history, but it’s so often told through the European settler perspective,” he said. “Through that process which was one of discovery and education for myself, the story broke down into nine chapters.”

The show runs until May 5, and is the first of a year’s worth of shows featuring Onkwehón:we artists. Kanien’kehá:ka multidisciplinary visual artist Hannah Claus’s work will open March 7.

Shame and Prejudice travels from the colonial period to modern day Winnipeg with Miss Chief Eagle Testickle as guide. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

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Dear Readers:

As an essential service that is still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Eastern Door is fighting hard to keep news like this flowing, in our print product, though an online subscription at www.eastermdoor.com and here, for free, on our website and Facebook.

But when a large portion of our regular revenue has disappeared due to so many other businesses being closed, our circulation being affected by the same issue, and all of our specials canceled until the end of the year, we are looking for alternative ways to keep operations going, staff paid, and the paper out every Friday for you to enjoy.

Please consider a financial contribution to help us keep doing what we do best; telling the stories of our people in a contemporary medium – a solid, continuing archive that documents our cherished, shared history. Your kind donation will go to a newspaper that stands as the historical record, in-depth, informative and award-winning news; colourful stories, and a big boost to the local economy by employing 95 percent local workers.

Also, please consider subscribing to our e-edition, which comes out Thursday night, at www.easterndoor.com today, or pick up your copy Friday morning in Kahnawake, Kanesatake or Chateauguay. Akwesasne delivery has been suspended due to the pandemic and border issues.

We exercise real freedom of the press every single day. Without our reporters fighting for the truth our community would be missing a whole lot of facts, separated from gossip and rumors.

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