Made In Canada (2018) was commissioned by the Dunlop gallery in Regina on the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary. It resembles a green and white highway road sign, also referencing the driving element of the Saskatchewan-wide project. Spelling out ‘WE ARE SORRY’ in large upper-case letters, with a tab which in a much smaller type, spells out “FOREVER”, the work connects with the stereotype of the Canadian as an apologist. It’s also a universal phrase which never gets old and can become devoid of meaning very easily, particularly in a political context.
Although the subject and object of apology in the case of this work is vague — who is the ‘we’ and who is being apologized to is purposefully ambiguous — the use of the aesthetic of the highway sign as context for the message could suggest that the apology is meant to be seen as coming from an authority such as a government agency. The genuineness of the apology is also suspect. The additional tab on the sign which states that the apology is ‘forever’ indicates that apart from the apologies of the past, the apologist sees that their future activities will also require apologies, potentially infinitely.
Made In Canada was originally intended for installation in Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan, which could support a reading of the work in a historical context — the government’s mistreatment of Canada’s Dukhobor population, who had a settlement in the area. In 1907, for example, the Canadian government reneged on an earlier promise that Dukhobor newcomers exiled from Russia for their religious and cultural beliefs during the 1890s could live and work in colonies in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. The federal government continued to be suspicious of the Dukhobors because of their different belief systems: their opposition to militarism, their refusal to send their children to school, and their desire to maintain their language.