Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

There is a new public art installation on display on Toronto’s waterfront, consisting of more than 1,200 painted bison shells.

The exhibition is called Built on Genocide, and it is part of the Luminato Festival. Native artist Jay Soule, known as Chippewar, and their team took seven months to assemble, paint and connect the four-foot-tall pile of skulls.

“The Buffalo skull pile is based on the old historical photos from the late 1800s of the hundreds of thousands of buffalo skulls and bones in piles,” the artist said in an Instagram post.

The artwork was influenced by mass murder of bison during colonial railroad expansion.  Soule writes that decimation of herds is an aspect of Canadian history that is not widely recognized but has consequences that are still felt today.  "Based on genocide will address the direct link between the genocide of the buffalo and the genocide of indigenous peoples in Canada," han wro

@ chippewar / Instagram

The artwork was influenced by mass murder of bison during colonial railroad expansion. Soule writes that decimation of herds is an aspect of Canadian history that is not widely recognized but has consequences that are still felt today.

“Building on genocide will address the direct link between the genocide of the buffalo and the genocide of indigenous peoples in Canada,” he wrote.

The skull mound is one of 20 images that illustrate ways in which Canada committed genocide against indigenous peoples.

Soule recommended people to visit the downtown installations twice – once a day and once a night.

“The juxtaposition of skyscrapers in the background lights up is such an interesting contrast to the high of the skulls. Very relaxing. ”

The exhibition Built on Genocide is free and will be in place until October 24. It’s located on Ontario Square near the Harbourfront Center.

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