INDIGENOUS GROUP OF SEVEN: Morrisseau monument boosts N. Ontario tourism

Canada’s most famous indigenous artist, Norval Morrisseau, has a new monument in northwestern Ontario in the region he was born and raised. The installation at Nipigon’s Bridgeview Lookout is part of the Lake Superior North Shore Tourism Project and consists of an interpretive panel below a metal bird airbrushed with photos of Morrisseau, which all stand on a wooden platform.

The design is a reference to Morrisseau’s spirit name – Ozaawaabiko-binesi – meaning “Copper Thunderbird” in Cree.

“It makes me proud,” said Eugene Morrisseau, one of Morrisseau’s seven children, who was at the event late last week to see the new monument and gave a short speech.

Norval Morrisseau was born in the area and spent his formative years at Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (BNA) First Nation, approximately 65 km north of Nipigon, which is about 90 minutes from Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, an area dubbed “Superior Country.”

“It’s a great honour for my father because he was born there – that’s his traditional area,” said Morrisseau. “For that to be held at Nipigon Bridge, I’m really excited, including myself and my siblings.”

Development of the monument was a collaborative effort between Superior Country staff, the estate of Norval Morrisseau, Joseph Sanchez, Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, and the Red Rock Indian Band.

Morrisseau painting

“We are very excited to unveil a monument celebrating the successes of the Indigenous Group of Seven – and, specifically, Norval Morriseau who is from this region,” said Dan Bevilacqua, executive director of Superior Country.

The Nipigon Public Library actually houses “The Great Bear Spirit,” an original Morrisseau painting.

Bevilacqua noted that this is a big step towards greater awareness of the Indigenous Group of Seven – something he and staff at Superior Country hope to bring more of to the region and to travellers passing through.

“There’s been a big gap in the promotion of the Indigenous Group of Seven,” said Bevilacqua.

“While we see a lot of promotion around the Group of Seven, Indigenous Group of Seven hasn’t been touched upon. This is a great opportunity for us to really showcase the importance of Indigenous peoples to the area and the importance of art and culture to the area as well. Being able to celebrate Norval Morrisseau – who is right from this region – is very important to us.”

“For my father to be recognized, it takes time on stuff like that,” said Morriseau. “For people to know who he really was, for him to start this movement, to inspire a lot of people, even myself as a second-generation artist, it’s good.”

Norval Morrisseau passed away on Dec. 4, 2007.

First published at Travel Industry Today


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