Bruno Canadien

June 21 to July 30, 2011

The New Gallery is pleased to present North, an exhibition of recent work by Bruno Canadien. Canadien is Dene, and a member of the Deh Gáh Got’ie Koe First Nation, a Deh Cho Region member of the Dene Nation. He has worked as an artist since graduation from the Alberta College of Art Painting Department in 1993.

This body of work speaks to the contemporary presence of Native peoples in the Americas, and honours them in their resistance to colonial governance and industrial invasion. The Freedom Fighter Series of paintings is evidence that, headlines or not, Indian nations continue to assert themselves in their traditional territories. These adorned square canvas paintings acknowledge and honour our people as we actively engage the world in the 21st century, across the western hemisphere. This series is ongoing, and currently over forty pieces strong.

North, along with Assail, Fight, Protest, Slam, (on view in TNG +15 Window Space through July 30, 2011) brings together my most recent work in the Freedom Fighters Series. These paintings thematically reference issues of northern Canadian First Nations resistance to oil & gas activities in their territories. The efforts to extract, process and transport non-renewable resources on Native land often has negative consequences, particularly for local communities, and has not been met without opposition. These canvases address that opposition with imagery and design evoking tradition, protest and celebration.

– Bruno Canadien


Bruno Canadien was recently identified by artist and curator Frederick R. McDonald as a young artist who paints contemporary issues relevant to First Nations peoples today. His work represents peoples and issues too often obscured by unawareness or apathy, but also ever present across Canada.

In this latest exhibition North, Canadien continues his ongoing Freedom Fighters Series, bringing recognition to serious issues affecting the quality of life for many people living in traditional communities in northern Alberta. Using traditional forms, colour and ribbons to evoke thought about contemporary issues, Canadien’s work confronts viewers with images that are unavoidable to think about.

Industry is an established part of our lives, but the intrusion onto lands occupied by long term residents and the social upheaval caused, remain foreign to many of us. The ongoing resistance of First Nations citizens reminds us that what makes money also often comes at great cost, interrupting lives and spoiling the environment.

The Freedom Fighters Series is Canadien’s own ongoing act of resistance, bringing sight and awareness to issues that First Peoples across the Western Hemisphere continue to face. It is a record of recent and current issues that ultimately impact each of us, and can have far-reaching and unanticipated consequences. Bruno Canadien is in the thick of what it is to be young today: making use of social media, blogging about immediate issues and events and using his art to remind the world now of the continued presence of First Peoples. His vigilance in researching and learning about the lives of the people involved in current struggles and interpreting them into artforms, is his voice honouring both his ancestors and contemporaries.

– Valerie Miller


Bruno Canadien is Dene, an aboriginal group of First Nations who live in the northern boreal and arctic regions of Canada. He is also a member of the Deh Gáh Got’ie Koe First Nation, a Deh Cho Region member of the Dene Nation. He has worked as an artist since graduating from the Alberta College of Art Painting Department in 1993. His work generally draws attention to issues facing First Nations peoples today, especially the way they are portrayed in the media. Canadien’s work is also represented in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Glenbow Museum, the Red Deer Museum and the Indian Art Centre in Ottawa. Bruno currently resides with his wife Amy in Black Diamond, AB.