Public Apology to Siksika Nation
Toronto, Canada: Toronto Biennial of Art, 2019
160 pp., 17 x 11 x 1 cm., softcover
Edition of 14000
A free publication given away at the Toronto Biennial of Art, which closes tomorrow. Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant, the book is part of Bronson's largest installation, and is presented next to the work of Adrian Stimson, a Siksika artist who responds to the piece.
The title includes an essay by Ben Miller, who served as Bronson's research assistant while working on this project. His text can be read, in full, here.
"I’m doing a project called “Public Apology to Siksika Nation.” I want to apologize on behalf of my great-grandfather. Through doing the research on this, I met Adrian Stimson, who’s a Siksika native. He’s a Canadian artist who about a year ago moved back to the reserve. He was living in Saskatoon, and incidentally he received the Governor General’s Award a few weeks ago. I am working on the project together with him.
"My great-grandfather founded one of the first residential schools, somewhere between 1883–1884. And, well, the little drama that happened; he was only there for 11 years, and then he was transferred to another reserve because there was a kind of uprising, which has been squashed in written history. You can’t find documentation of it; it’s very, very difficult to find anything about it. But what we know happened was there was a tuberculosis epidemic amongst the children in the school. [With] tuberculosis, you need lots of air and sunlight, and you need to get out into the open air. He was more or less locking the kids in school. He wouldn’t let their parents see them once they were sick because he was afraid the parents would get them to revert from Christianity back to paganism, and then they’d die of the disease, and their souls would go to hell because they weren’t Christian. So he kept them locked up in the school, and they died in the school without ever seeing their parents."
- AA Bronson, in conversation with Dorian Batycka