Government of Canada Statement: Passing of Norval Morrisseau
October 1, 2008October 1, 2008 Add comment0 comments Letters Letters


Dec. 5, 2007

On behalf of the Government of Canada, we would like to express our sadness on the passing of Ojibwa artist, Norval Morrisseau. Mr.Morrisseau was unquestionably one of the greatest artists of his generation. He was a courageous Aboriginal painter who, through perseverance and faith in his gift, was able to break through enormous cultural and racial barriers to bring his art not just to Canada, but to the world.

Born on Sandy Lake Reserve in northwestern Ontario in 1931, Mr. Morrisseau began painting in 1959 and was discovered the very next year. He went on to become one of Canada's best known artists and was considered the founder of the "Woodland Art Movement". He drew strength from his powerful Ojibway name, "Copper Thunderbird," and signed all his work in Cree syllabics under that name.

Mr. Morrisseau was dubbed the "Picasso of the North" by the French Press in 1969 and is considered one of the most innovative artists of the 20th Century.

Presented with the Order of Canada in 1978, and recipient of numerous honourary doctorates and awards, Mr. Morrisseau was much more than the sum of the accolades that surrounded him. An inspiration to a generation of young Aboriginal artists that followed him, his art provided a direct link to the rich ancestral heritage of First Nations people. Mr. Morrisseau's passing is a great loss to the Aboriginal community, the arts and cultural community and all Canadians.

The Honourable Chuck Strahl The Honourable Josee Verner
Minister of Indian and Northern Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Affairs Canada and Federal Status of Women and
Interlocutor for Metis and Non Official Languages
-Status Indians
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