Failed Promises by Anita Van Zeumeren

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Anita Van Zeumeren

Failed Promises

2019

71.12 × 55.88 cm | 28 × 22 in

Oil on board

  • Honorable Mention / Still Life

Those of us of European descents have had the tendency to look at treaties through the lens of the Crown, which focuses on the written text as portrayed through the lamp, the written treaty and the inkwell. Through this painting, I learned that an indigenous view is much broader, including not only the creator, but an understanding that by signing the treaty and solemnizing the process with the use of the sacred pipe, the ancestors of the Crown are seen as relatives in accordance with indigenous laws of adoption.  


No matter how egregious our failure to honour treaties with First Nations, an indigenous view understands that the promises are never null and void. In the painting, I chose an owl’s feather for the pen. An owl, in Cree culture is a harbinger of death; a sign perhaps of the European's lack of intention to honour our own written words? There are raven feathers (symbol of honesty) running down the centre of Britain’s flag. Will we, as ancestors of the Crown, finally fulfill our solemn promises so maybe one day we will truly have an “enduring and lasting relationship” with the first peoples of this land?