Sleeping Dragon - Forest Protector #5 - Hold On, Mahki…

Size: 48 X 60 in.
Oil on Canvas, Unframed

Current location: Toronto

Please contact the gallery for more information on this work.

“The arrival of the RCMP early that morning was a surprise - our look-out ran off the moment the police showed up. I awoke to my friend telling me the police are here. I jolted out of my sleeping bag and began throwing my belongings together. Another friend of mine was violently detained when she stepped past the gate so I knew I would have only one chance to get into my blockade device. I jumped to the ground in front of the gate when no police were looking. I dug at the ground with my hands, trying desperately to find the concealed locking mechanism. I remember thinking that I felt like a bear digging for tubers. It was hidden well, but I eventually found it and inserted my arm into the Sleeping Dragon.

In my rush, I did not have time to put on my sash. It was gifted to me during graduation by an Elder and dear friend. The sash is regalia from the Michif or Métis Nation; I wear it to honour my identity. I am ashamed by the history of Métis colonialism west of the Rocky Mountains including the recent claims of the Métis Nation of British Columbia over First Nation land. By allying with unceded territories in B.C. who are resisting settler colonialism, I hope to offer an example of what the Métis Nation should represent: Indigenous sovereignty. My arrest support, a Nēhiyaw and Métis woman named Daystar, noticed my distress. I barely needed to say the word “Sash” before she took off to retrieve it. She wrapped it around my waist, and we knew she was my protector -ni naatamakayt- even though no words were exchanged. She watched over me throughout the whole process and I felt calm.

 This Sleeping Dragon was metal, which had not been used previously in similar devices. The tube was tighter than I expected, and I had to forcefully push my arm in. It cut my circulation and after a while, blood pooled in my upper arm causing swelling. I was silent, occasionally nodding so the RCMP would stop talking to me. I did not want to utter a word to those shameful men and women who are complicit in genocide and here to serve only corporate interests. The police put a blanket and helmet on me and began using an excavator mere feet from my head. The protective gear didn’t reassure me as it would have been easy for them to cause me harm. They were laughing and making small talk while all this happened - just another Wednesday.

I reflected on living on Pacheedaht territory for the last month. Even in that short time, I found myself bonded to it. I was able to see the many facets of its beauty. I was utterly terrified that it would be lost. The police started yelling at me to stop resisting despite my body being completely limp and my hand unable to move. They were in the ground beneath me, struggling to undo the chains. Occasionally, they would forcefully attempt lifting my body even though it was painful and meaningless. I worried that moving my body like this would lacerate my arm along the edge of the metal rim. Suddenly, I hear the cop in the ground say that I’m no longer locked in.

I am pulled from the Earth. I am awash with emotions: guilt that I couldn’t stop them, anger at the people who are making this happen, fear for what might be lost. I am stolen away from Eden.”

-- Mahki


Kyle Scheurmann's oil paintings are the documentations of our threatened landscapes that have undergone human-induced trauma. The artists work is painted on canvas or jute, and characterized by his thoughtful palette and painterly approach; utilizing the subtle nuances of indigo, mauve and violet to great effect. Pieces are presented unframed, and ready to hang.

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