Faces of Canada Today features poppies crafted by Indigenous makers in a major art installation
In honour of National Indigenous Veterans Day, the Juno Beach Centre (JBC) is pleased to announce that its newest exhibition, Faces of Canada Today, will include a major art installation that features poppies crafted by three Métis, Inuit, and First Nations artists.
Originally inaugurated in 2003, the Faces of Canada Today permanent exhibition showcased Canada’s evolution since the war. Twenty years later, the JBC – Canada’s Second World War museum and memorial in Normandy, France – is undertaking a $1.25 million renewal project, updating the space to reflect the modern Canada that our Second World War Veterans helped build.
The centerpiece of Faces of Canada Today will be a large art installation. As visitors enter the gallery space, they will see 3,000 floating poppies suspended against the backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Juno Beach.
In addition to the popular Royal Canadian Legion poppies that Canadians wear each year for Remembrance Day, the installation will also feature numerous beaded, sealskin, and birchbark and quill poppies from three Métis, Inuit, and First Nations artists respectively.
Marissa Magneson, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, created the beaded poppies. “These poppies are symbols of gratitude and respect for those who sacrificed to protect our collective freedom,” she says. “They were created especially to honour Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQ+ Veterans, and those whose service led to the loss of their Indian Status. May their stories inspire us to build an equal and just future.”
Crystal Gloade, from Millbrook First Nation, created the birchbark and porcupine quill poppies. “I am blessed and honoured to create these poppies using natural resources from the land,” she says. “They are symbols of remembrance of all Veterans and those who lost their lives in service.”
Inuk, a Inuvialuk from the Northwest Territories, created the sealskin poppies. “Lest we forget our Inuit and Indigenous Veterans,” she says. “My poppies are made for them and their families. I walk with one foot in the old world and one in the new, and understand that we cannot change our past, but with every step forward we can learn and grow better together.”
Financing for these poppies, for the wider poppy art installation, and for other exhibit fabrication efforts was provided through the Commemoration Program of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program.
The inclusion of these artists’ poppies would not have been possible without First Peoples Group, a well-respected Indigenous advisory firm. The JBC is proud to have partnered with First Peoples Group to collaboratively develop all content related to Indigenous Peoples in Faces of Canada Today.
With the approaching 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2024, this project comes at an opportune time. Featuring stories from across Canada’s diverse population, Faces of Canada Today aims to be reflective, nuanced, and honest in its portrayal of its people’s courage, resilience, and sacrifice since 1945.
ABOUT THE JUNO BEACH CENTRE
The Juno Beach Centre was established in 2003 as a permanent memorial to all Canadians who were part of the Allied victory in the Second World War, and to preserve this legacy for future generations through education. The Centre in Normandy, France, pays homage to the nearly 45,000 Canadians who died during the War, including 5,500 during the Battle of Normandy and 381 on D-Day. Twenty years and more than 1.3 million visitors later, the Centre has been designated a site of national historic significance to Canada. It is owned and operated by the Juno Beach Centre Association, a registered charitable organization based in Burlington, ON, Canada. To learn more, please visit www.junobeach.org.