Artist hopes Fredericton airport painting will teach people about Indigenous culture

·2 min read
The City of Fredericton has commissioned Percy Sacobie to create a piece of art that will be mounted on the wall of the Fredericton International Airport's departure lounge. (Logan Perley/CBC - image credit)
The City of Fredericton has commissioned Percy Sacobie to create a piece of art that will be mounted on the wall of the Fredericton International Airport's departure lounge. (Logan Perley/CBC - image credit)

The Fredericton International Airport will be getting a piece of artwork that shines a light on the region's Indigenous heritage.

The City of Fredericton has commissioned Percy Sacobie of St. Mary's First Nation to do a painting that will be hung on the wall of the airport's departure lounge by the end of next year.

"[I'm] honoured to be chosen among so many great artists from the province of New Brunswick," said Sacobie.

Sacobie said he's already come up with a concept and has started putting together sketches.

He said it will be inspired by the Indigenous legend of Glooscap, and how he saved the Wolastoqey people from floods 10,000 years ago by destroying a beaver dam at the mouth of the Wolastoq River.

JAMES WEST PHOTOGRAPHY
JAMES WEST PHOTOGRAPHY

"So they destroyed the dam... the river valley went down, water levels went down, which created Grand Lake and a lot of other lakes along the St. John River Valley," said Sacobie, recounting the story.

With hundreds of thousands of people anticipated to travel through the airport annually, Sacobie said his hope is that people who otherwise wouldn't get exposed to Indigenous art have a chance to admire it and learn something about the culture and story of his people.

"I think sharing cultures is important, right, whether it be through artwork or any other aspects," he said.

"So being in an airport and having that kind of exposure and to show that there's Indigenous people that are living along the St. John River Valley or the Wolastoq River is a good thing."

Sacobie said his deadline for the piece is next November, but he expects to have it finished by next summer.

In April, the Fredericton International Airport finished multimillion-dollar work to expand and modernize its departure lounge.

During Monday's regular council meeting, David Seabrook, Fredericton's manager of tourism and culture, said putting the artwork in the departure offers an opportunity to create a sense of place for the city.

"And it's a significant and highly visible statement about the city's commitment to culture, and it is also a statement of inclusion and a significant effort to recognize the presence of First Nations in our community and in a visible way in Fredericton," he said.

A news release from the city said the commission will cost $70,000. The city will partner with the Beaverbrook Art Gallery to install the artwork when it's completed.

The city says the artwork will be on permanent loan to the Fredericton International Airport.

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