Mìwàte Brought Centry-Old Conflict Between Canada and Native People Into Spotlight

As part of Canada 150's anniversary celebration in 2017, Ottawa hosted Mìwàte, a sound and light show at Chaudière Falls. Mìw...

As part of Canada 150's anniversary celebration in 2017, Ottawa hosted Mìwàte, a sound and light show at Chaudière Falls. Mìwàte means 'dazzle with light' in Anishinaabe language and aimed to celebrate native culture and spirituality. Despite the fact that many native people in general opposed the Canada's 150 celebration as they historically viewed the formation of Dominion of Canada in 1867 as the enactment of a formal seizure of their land, their rights and freedoms, Mìwàte helped re-open a dialog on a century-old controversy. 

To put things into perspective, Chaudière Falls and the surrounding islands to the Algonquin people is like Jerusalem to Christians or Mecca for Muslims. For centuries, it has been used as a gathering place to hold tribal meetings and perform tobacco ceremonies. 
Samuel de Champlain, "The Father of New France", who had a good relationship with the Algonquin people, was probably the first European who was invited to witness the ceremony at Chaudière Falls.
What fuelled a strong interest to Mìwàte and the falls is that the place was completely out of reach for general public for over 100 years. A predecessor of Hydro Ottawa (power corporation that operates in Canada's capital) erected a dam that diverted water to a newly built power station and fenced the whole complex for security purposes. Below is the picture of the falls circa 1815 (Ingrey, C., firm, London).
Chaudière Falls with the nearby islands turns out to be at the centre of the largest community's land claim in Ontario. But Mìwàte's exposition brought attention to other issues and historical controversies as well. Residential schools is one of them. The term sounds innocent, but what was happening between 1880 and 1996 (!) is monstrous and considered a cultural genocide. Basically, 10-11 months a year, about 30% of all native children across the country were forced to go to government-sponsored schools far from their homes where they would be assimilated into Euro-Canadian culture. That included language, religion, traditions. I've recently heard an interview on CBC Radio that children were even used in nutrition and medical experiments. Estimated 6,000 children died in residential schools.
No doubt that raising awareness was the single most important goal of the show. But I found Mìwàte very interesting from an aesthetic perspective. A dark fog intensified a moody feeling created by light and music.
Chaudière Falls hidden for over a century.
Electronic music had traditional tribal motives mixed with voices in Anishinaabe language. 
The light was simply awesome.
A small fragment from the show.
Apparently, not everyone in the Algonquin tribe liked the idea or the realization of Mìwàte (some even called it "mockery"). However I think it was an important step toward a reconciliation between Canada and its native people as it raised public awareness and brought the century-old conflict into a spotlight again. Fast forward one year, the park overlooking the falls is now open to public, and Hydro Ottawa hosted an open doors event in June 2018 inviting all visitors to tour their power station. To be continued.

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