Norval Morrisseau – How to express appreciation.

This picture is a pastime. I’ve been at it now for maybe six or seven months. Maybe I’ll be at it for another four months or three months. When its finished the way I want to see it I want to present it to the people of Canada. To all the children of Canada. Indian and Native, Chinese, coloured or whatever they are. They’re all great souls. These are the people we want to give it to. To appreciate it. Here…hang it up. This is my appreciation for this medal that you have given me.

First you drive me down to the pits of the bottom of hell by your Missionaries and then later on you lift me up with medals…and no matter what I was behind…that’s gone. That was the experience that I went through. If I never went through this bottom thing or the upper thing I would never be this great artist. I wouldn’t be here to show…Here, here’s my appreciation for trying to understand who I am.

Norval Morrisseau

The masterpiece mural, “A Separate Reality” took Morrisseau five years to complete. He then gifted it to the people of Canada. It now is permanently displayed in the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Canada.

An Indian gift is a proverbial expression, signifying a present for which an equivalent return is expected.
Thomas Hutchinson,
History of Massachusetts Bay, 1765

Morrisseau understood the sacred attitude behind the derogatory term, “Indian Giver”. Canada gave him a medal so he gave Canada a mural in return…and he did so from the heart.