WORK > Salt & Sage | Banff Springs Internment Memorial and Ceremonial Landscape

Banff Springs Memorial
Banff Springs Memorial
March 2014

Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park is comprised of a series of thermal hot springs formed by the Sulphur Mountain thrust fault 3km below the surface, and is a site of national significance.

However, located in Treaty 7 territory, for the Blackfoot Confederacy, Tsuut'ina First Nations, and Stoney Nakoda Nations the Banff Springs were a sacred site for over 10,000 years. The springs were ‘discovered’ in 1888 by two railway workers. The two men wanted to turn the site into a for-profit tourist destination, however, the Canadian government instead designated the land as public property, therefore initiating the birthplace of Canada’s National Park system and one of the largest networks of protected landscapes in the world.

Although the creation of a National Park system allowed public access with intent to create social equity through access and preservation, the site covered up an important ceremonial space and impacted an area of ecological significance.

In 1914 the site was used to house interned Ukrainian-Canadian citizens in what was one of Canada’s harshest work camps. Canadian citizens interned at Cave and Basin cleared the roads that today make up trails in the park system, as well as the road between Banff and Jasper. As a result, these people significantly contributed to the government’s ability to establish Canada's first National Park.

As part of this project, I reconsider how meaning is ascribed into landmarks of national importance. The intent is to create a landscape-based memorial - a place - and performative space that redefines the hot spring as a ceremonial ground for the First Nations communities who have called Banff home for thousands of years.

By daylighting this layered history and bringing these narratives to the foreground, this project reconsiders the meaning of Park spaces in Canada and re-inscribes these places as important cultural landscapes that embody meaning beyond areas of sublime significance rooted in romantic notions of travel, leisure and the picturesque.

See Passage, for installation works associated with this larger project