An archeologist is using some crafty editing and a passion for First Nations rights to challenge the colonial history lining B.C.'s highways.
“It was this really glossy, new paint over this dated, colonial message,” Hammond told BuzzFeed Canada.
So, with the help of a photo editing program and an image taken from B.C.’s online point-of-interest signs directory, she made some copy updates.
“I want the government to rethink how they’re doing this,” said Hammond. “They need to do better on this and they’re not, they’re just tidying up this existing colonial history.”
In “Architect Of Dispossession,” she called the province’s first Lieutenant-governor "a deeply racist colonialist" and explained how his policies led to injustices that are still being felt by today’s First Nations.
The original versions of Hammond’s signs are located in and around Kamloops and B.C.’s south interior, where she has been working for the past 20 years with a focus on Indigenous heritage management.
“Salmon, Copper, and Elk,” her first reworked sign, is her favourite because of its direct connection to the local First Nations she works for.
While reaction to her updated signs has been “total silence” from government officials, Hammond has received a tremendous amount of feedback from the public of which, “99% has been supportive and positive,” she said.
In addition to being contacted by people across Canada, some of whom have even sent her points-of-interest signs from their provinces that are in need of a makeover, she’s also been contacted by First Nations people who live in the communities where the signs are found.
“(They’re) saying thank you, saying that was actually my family, that’s my ancestry.”
“I love this country,” Hammond said, “and I’m appalled at how we’ve left this problem to linger. I think it’s the one thing that’s really, really getting in the way of Canada being what it could be. “
Contact Lindsay Kneteman at lauren.strapagiel+LindsayKneteman@buzzfeed.com.
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