O-ween du muh waun (We were told)
Location: Air Canada Park, 345 Portage Avenue
Medium: Concrete, weathering steel
"We chose to install this sculpture here in this place called Winipi Manitowapow, a gathering place for many nations and home to two rivers that meet.
The work is a symbol of the failed attempts to assimilate us. We were told to be more like them. It is an “anti-monument” to a forced colonial education. Instead, it speaks to knowledge that comes from culture, from tradition. The stack of school chairs on a concrete table is deliberately overturned to signify an ending, finality—like the “ivory tower” paradigm of colonial knowledge that Indigenous communities, every day, turns on its head.
O-ween du muh waun. The time of being told is over."
-Rebecca Belmore & Osvaldo Yero
O-ween du muh waun was created as part of THIS PLACE on Treaty 1 Territory & the homeland of the Métis Nation. This is a major public art project that builds on efforts to create awareness of the rich Indigenous cultures, peoples and heritage that are at the roots of our territory, city and province. Indigenous artists were asked to respond to the idea of this place on Treaty No. 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis nation, and their reflections range in concept and expression. As a place of community and gathering in downtown Winnipeg, the artworks located in this park make a significant mark in the city.
Rebecca Belmore (b. Upsala, Ontario) and Osvaldo Yero (b. Camaguey, Cuba) currently reside in the city of Toronto. Belmore is a multi-disciplinary artist whose works are rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, making evocative connections between bodies, land, and language. Yero immigrated to Canada in 1997. His work, mainly sculpture and installation, is politically and socially charged, contending with issues of national identity and playing with boundaries of kitsch and high art. Their public art commission trace (2014), for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, illustrates their collaborative interests. In trace, Belmore and Yero actively engaged Winnipeg's diverse community to create a large-scale blanket of beads from raw clay excavated from various locations throughout the city. For the past twenty years their working relationship has been mediated by their mutual interest in the material nature of art and its relationship to the body.