Nuit Blanche a show case for First Nations rights

The soothing sounds of the Algonquin echo across David Pecaut Square, where many onlookers gaze at the sculpture in front of them.

“The Trappings of Power” is an independent project showcased at this year’s edition of Nuit Blanche, held on Oct.5.

Robin Tinney, the creator, is an Algonquin native who is fighting against the injustice set upon the Aboriginal peoples. Held together by a metal frame, this piece holds several types of traps used for hunting animals.

Clasped within these traps are papers tied with red ribbons which represents the “elements of the agreements: hunting rights, fishing rights, education and or tax benefits,” Tinney said.

Tinney’s Algonquin band is currently in land transfer negotiations with the Canadian government. The government has offered to his band $33 for each acre of land, whereby the government would then sell it off for profit.

“The way they negotiate treaties is designed to basically make it difficult for natives to get a good land deal,” Tinney said.

“Out of the 70 some treaties that exist in Canada, I don’t think there is a good one among them, and to my knowledge the Canadian government has never fully honoured one.”

Faryal Ashraf, a spectator at Nuit Blanche, found this artwork to be powerful and eye opening.

“I think the art piece did well to show that Canada still disregard treaties and that they are not making quite an effort to fix mistakes that have happened,” Ashraf said. “But instead want to pay off the aboriginals.”

Tinney’s inspiration for his piece streams from the negotiations occurring right now with the government. His artwork represents the feeling of being trapped. He disagrees with the government’s offer and would like nothing more than for his people to decline the proposal.

“I’d be thrilled if my own people saw it and said no to the agreement. I’m willing to take the risk, that if it takes another 100 years, it takes another 100 years I don’t think it’s a good deal,” Tinney said.