Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years


Objects of beauty have always been present in Aboriginal societies. Carved or engraved, painted, sewn or woven, used every day or on ritual occasions, these objects were part of the fabric of life.

With European settlement, some of these traditions were lost and others were driven underground. Aboriginal men and women also created new styles, using trade materials and innovative design.

In time, Aboriginal people began to absorb the European concept of art as an activity separate from daily life. As some Aboriginal people began to paint in Western style to express their commitment to their own cultural legacy, the concept of "artist" became established in Aboriginal communities.

Today, Aboriginal artists in Canadian society respond to their traditional and colonial past, and to global issues in the contemporary world. Their art has become an important vehicle for cultural affirmation and self-expression.

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