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Artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun speaks out

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is critical of aboriginal leaders like those of the Four Host First Nation who partner with provincial…

By Megan Stewart , in Culture , on November 23, 2008 Tags: , , , , ,

In this four-by-five metre canvas, Yuxweluptun expresses his frustration with the 1951 Indian Act

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is critical of aboriginal leaders like those of the Four Host First Nation who partner with provincial and federal government to make BC First Nations an integral part of the 2010 Olympics.

He is a strong advocate for aboriginal self-governance and favours a Canadian republic over the monarchical confederation.

His giant canvases of neon and earth tones tell the stories of graphic figures whose fragility is nothing short of apocryphal. Thin legs, giant faces as if drawn from a totem: these bodies are nonetheless capable of resisting the end of the time, betrayal, deceit and colonialism. The artist imbues their bodies with strength drawn from time immemorial.

Of Cowichan Salish and Okanagan ancestries, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun filmed himself shooting bullets through the 1951 Indian Act on British soil. He then sent the footage to BC Premier Gordon Campbell.

“He wrote me a nice letter,” Yuxweluptun said of Campbell.

Born in the Thompson-Okanagan in 1954, Yuxweluptun attended the Kamloops Residential School and believes the dog in the pound has more rights and liberties than he does.

“Even a bear in a national park has more rights than I do,” he said. “Actually, a bear has more land base than I do.”

Yuxweluptun grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Emily Carr College in 1983. Galleries around the world have featured his paintings, drawings and sculptures. He is currently working on a commission for the National Gallery of Canada that will be on display until 2010.

Listen to Yuxweluptun in his own words on rights, the Queen and suicide.

Related: Controversial art can’t land at Vancouver airport