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Date: April 07, 2000

Neglected Founding Culture To Be Celebrated In Mural

A mural celebrating Métis culture will soon join other works of art on campus representing the cultures of the area's Aboriginal people. The work by Métis artist and UVic visual arts grad Rick Rivet is the result of two government programs supporting each other. A grant from the Canada Millennium Partnership Program, matched by the province's British Columbia 2000 fund, will cover the commission.

"Over the last 20 years, the university has commissioned major monumental works representing the indigenous cultures which have contributed to the history of Victoria," says Prof. Martin Segger, UVic's director of the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery. "This mural project provides the means to celebrate one of the city's neglected founding cultures."

Rivet's mural will be 16 feet long and six feet high. It will be installed in the foyer of UVic's 1996 Classroom Building and will be clearly visible from the outside through the foyer's floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows. The artist expects to begin work on the mural this fall.

Rivet's paintings and drawings are part of the major collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Québec; the Province of B.C.; the Gordon Snelgrove Art Gallery at the University of Saskatchewan; and the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery. He was born in Aklavik in the Northwest Territories in 1949 and came south to pursue art and art related studies at UVic, where he graduated with a visual arts degree in 1979. Rivet has worked as an artist and taught in many parts of Canada. He now resides in Terrace, B.C.

In describing his work, Rivet says, "My art deals with the idea of 'bearing witness' to the strong spiritual content within the artistic traditions of aboriginal peoples in Canada and world-wide. It also pays witness to history--particularly, colonial history. These ancient aboriginal artistic traditions, with their basis rooted in Shamanic ideology and belief, have survived despite the devastating effects of colonialism."

The Métis played a prominent role in Victoria's early history. They were the builders of Fort Victoria and the first traders into the territory. Amelia, the wife of the colony's first governor Sir James Douglas, was a Métis as was Josette, the wife of Hudson's Bay Company chief factor John Work. Métis culture is gaining a higher profile in the city through the work of the Victoria Métis Community Services, the Lower Vancouver Island Métis Association, and a newsletter, the Métis Messenger.

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