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28 February 2006

An exhibition of Canadian indigenous art opening in the National Museum's First Australians Gallery this Thursday marks the first time a collection from another country has been shown in the space.

People of the Cedar: First Nations Art from the Northwest Coast of Canada is a collection of more than 50 modernist works including masks and carvings, textiles and paintings, which reflect a deeply spiritual relationship to British Columbia's coast and forests. The exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia and the High Commission of Canada.

The launch will feature performances by Canadian artist Dempsey Bob, and Duncan Smith on didgeridoo, and speeches from Canadian High Commissioner Michael Leir and Northern Territory printmaker Banduk Marika on the importance of unity in diversity.

WHAT: People of the Cedar exhibition launch

WHEN: 10.30am, Thursday, 2 March, 2006

WHERE: Garden of Australian Dreams, National Museum

National Museum director Craddock Morton said the exhibition was a wonderful chance to show the indigenous art and culture of a country which shared many common historical experiences with Australia, and to encourage dialogue between the two countries.

The launch will be followed by a free public forum, The Ancestor's Voices: Speaking through the object, in the Museum's Visions Theatre from 2 - 5pm. The forum will examine the profound role of objects in the maintenance of culture, the spiritual power invested in them and their political function.

People of the Cedar was curated by the High Commission's Inge Rumble and Canadian Northwest Coast art historian Rocque Berthiaume. The People of the Cedar exhibition programs have been made possible by the support of Alcan.

The exhibition is on show in the National Museum's First Australians Focus Gallery from 2 March to 28 May. Entry is free.

For interviews, images and more information please contact Inge Rumble on 02 6270 4022, 0417 212 634 or Leanda Kitchen on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

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