It may be the 150th anniversary of Confederation but it also happens to be the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal and the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and to celebrate it all the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has turned the one kilometre distance between the museum on Sherbrooke and McGill University into an open air museum which it has named La Balade pour La Paix , which will run for five months from June 5th to October 29th, 2017.
The art work decorating Sherbrooke St. consists of some 200 national flags, including the flags of Canada at Confederation, the provinces and the territories. As well, on display will be 29 sculptures and installations from international and Canadian artists including Joe Fafard, Fernando Botero and Alexander Calder. Some 40 large scale photographs will also be displayed en route. There will also be 67 works bearing messages of peace and humanism. The whole thing has been designed to make you feel as if you were engaged in a 1960s peace march.
Having said all this, the standout piece for me will be the 63 foot, more or less, totem pole carved by Kwakiutl artist Charles Joseph to pay homage to the Mohawks of Kanewake, on whose ancestral land the City of Montreal perches. The work’s title is Residential School Totem Pole and the work is dedicated to all the indigenous children who between 1820 and 1996 were torn from their parents, taken to schools run by religious orders and told they could never speak their native language again. It is a symbol of reconciliation and commemoration and is completely beautiful.