What is sacred?
Indigenous Canadians who speak of sacred objects say they are often misidentified.
They say there are more than 400 indigenous groups in Canada who have sacred objects.
Some have more than one.
But the issue of sacred art is fraught with complexities.
The vast majority of Canadian artists are white.
But there are Indigenous artists who identify as white.
The two most visible Indigenous artists in Canada, Aboriginal sculptor and Indigenous sculptor Jacques Pécres and Indigenous painter and sculptor Peter MacKay, are both Indigenous.
In 2015, Péceres painted the likeness of the head of Canada’s First Nations, who was killed in a war in the late 19th century.
The Pécs were recognized as Indigenous artists last year when they were given the Order of Canada for their work in painting the head.
They are also recognized as artists in Quebec.
“They are the artists of the nation,” said David Pape, president of the Ottawa-based Indigenous Arts Council.
“They’re artists who have made a real contribution to Canadian culture.”
Pécé said his work is in the works for a gallery in Ottawa, but no firm date has been set.
Art experts say the real test for the accuracy of the Indigenous people who paint the images is the work itself.
“There is a lot of history,” said Mark Fagan, an artist who has studied Indigenous art and is director of the Centre for Art, Design and Technology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
“But you have to be a bit more creative and you have a good understanding of how Indigenous people see things.”‘
A great honour’ to be recognized’The Pés are not the only Indigenous artist who have been recognized as having an image.
In 2009, French artist Paul Sadeur, who lived in the Métis community of Saguenay, Que., was awarded the Order to the Arts in recognition of his work.
He was recognized in Ottawa as a cultural ambassador for the arts, an honour he said he took with pride.
“I’m honoured to be recognised as an artist, I’m honoured because this is a great honour,” Sadeurs said.
“It’s an honour to be an artist in a country that is one of the richest in the world.”
He added that the recognition is “an opportunity to be in contact with people in our own language.”
The Pétacs and Sadeuds have said they hope to one day paint the head for the Museum of Art in Ottawa.
“This is not about me, it’s about the people who live here,” Péces said.