The Year Ends as It Began: On the Path

Chemin de la Paix, 2016, hand embroidered wool and perle cotton on linen, 40"x40"

My friend Jean-Pierre described this piece quite accurately when he commented: "We will enter this disastrous, labyrinthine Native/European relationship together and we will find our way out of the labyrinth hundreds of years from now after many wrong turns and ruinous trials and tribulations."

I do hope we are nearing the end of those hundreds of years, though. For those of you who may not have heard, Canada has been conducting Truth and Reconciliation hearings for the last several years and the final report has just been released.

And the esteemed Francois-Marc Gagnon, author of the book that got me going on this whole project very graciously said to me in an email: "A beautiful piece! Louis Nicolas would have certainly enjoyed all your works and would have probably tried to make the Society of Jesus buy the whole series to decorate the Residence of Sillery."
This is what the underside looked like while I had it in the hoop. Yes, I use knots. Bad embroiderer! But what the heck. I am concerned with the image, not the perfection of technique.
And these two images from the late 17th century may shed some light on what is happening with the arms of the figures. Fashionable men's dress from that time would have included a cape, worn wrapped around one arm. If Louis Nicolas was drawing from engravings, as Dr. Gagnon's research indicates, he may have tried to combine the pose taken from Champlain with a contemporary fashion plate.
I have a few smaller text-based projects in the queue before I resume the Codex Canadensis series. And damn, I want to get this work exhibited. Making proposals and sending them out is not a task that I enjoy, but it is essential.


  1. Amazing! I so hope you find an appropriate venue to exhibit your Codex pieces. People need to see them!

  2. x fingers your Codex Canadensis will become part of the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa

  3. Anonymous6:13 AM

    I too hope that the chasm of ignorance between European North American culture and First Nations' culture is closing and that the centuries of criminal activity against First Nations is coming to a close. The fact that you can create such a sensitive piece about this suggests that the zeitgeist is moving in that direction. There are other positive signs. The ongoing protests against the Dakota access pipeline in the U.S. have been seen by millions around the world, thanks to social media. The First Nations people there have been joined by non-natives and all are equally concerned with the continuing assault on nature. On this, I think, we all can agree and join hands. There is common ground where nature is concerned. Our natural world needs to be protected from business-as-usual over-exploitation. The way of thinking that began hundreds of years ago, when Nicholas was alive and when Europeans could only see the new continent as a source of boundless, raw wealth, needs to end. Good job Heather. I want to see your work in a public gallery, where it can be seen as a sign of healing.

  4. I would love to see this TRAVEL in Canada, part of our history, and now part of the/our Canadian story (i say "our" as in the artists of Canada)who want justice for all the inequities perpetrated by solo and by group.

    May i suggest the Esker here in Calgary, The UBC Museum of Anthropology and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as well?

    And knots, schmotts, the front is the work, wth. I also had to laugh because i saw "Sill*i*ery" for Sillery :)

    I am constantly humbled by your dedication and accuracy.

  5. good luck in finding an exhibition venue, it would be wonderful to see it all hung as one piece.

  6. Once again I am just amazed that you have done it again! To see, in person, all these pieces together would be fantastic. Are you done done with the Codex? Or are the more you could do, if you wanted to?


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