I have visited this new artwork at The Forks site in Winnipeg several times now. It is called Education is the New Bison and was created by artist Val Vint who is of Cree, Ojibwa, Métis, African-American and Caucasian ancestry. The sculpture is in the shape of a bison and the parts of its body are made up of replicas of books by indigenous authors.
Val Vint said the bison was once of primary importance to indigenous people providing them with the essentials of a good life.
She feels that in the present day education is an essential ingredient for a rich life and an important key to the success of the process of truth and reconciliation.
That being said quite a few works by indigenous authors I’ve enjoyed seem to be missing. Some books I am still looking for are Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, 7 Generations by David Robertson, In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, The Break by Katherena Vermette, Canada Reads 2016 nominee Birdie by Tracey Lindberg, Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and The Right To Be Cold by Sheila Watt- Cloutier.
I am a little puzzled why Blackflies by Robert Munsch is included but not A Promise is a Promise which Munsch wrote with Inuit author Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. I know some books like From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle which I just read and Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq are too new to be included.
Maybe it is good I haven’t found all the books in the sculpture I think should be there because that will bring me back to explore Education is the New Bison again and again and perhaps locate more of them.
And maybe the fact that there are now so many books by indigenous authors they can’t all be included in one sculpture is a wonderful and promising thing.