Pick of the Day: Clearing a Path

This exhibit's been kicking around for a few years, so you may have already seen it somewhere. It opened at First Nations University of Canada in 2005, and features work by contemporary Aboriginal artists executed using traditional media like carving, quill and bead work. Since then, it's travelled to 20 Saskatchewan communities. Until March 6, it's on display at the RCMP Heritage Centre.

This latest venue offers an interesting juxtaposition of cultures and histories. The RCMP, of course, were founded by the federal Tories under Sir John A. McDonald in 1873 for the express purpose of facilitating the settlement of western Canada. In 1998, in fact, the very first article I wrote for prairie dog under then editor Mitch Diamantopolos was on the RCMP's "celebration" of its 125th anniversary. While the Force has made numerous mis-steps over the years, historians generally credit it with offering a degree of protection to First Nations in Canada and helping to avoid the type of Indian Wars that occured in the U.S. in the mid-19th century where tens of thousands of aboriginal people and settlers lost their lives.

Be that as it may, the RCMP were still a force of colonization in western Canada. So this exhibit, in the context of a museum dedicated to celebrating the proud history and exploits of one of the most famous police forces in the world, carries extra-special meaning. If you're looking for something to do this holiday season, check it out. And to offer a reminder of how the legend of the RCMP has been romanticized over the decades, here's a famous scene from the classic 1954 Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald cheesefest Rose-Marie (YouTube)

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