Identity refers to what is unique or distinctive about an individual or group. Every community constructs its image of itself around symbols, pictures, texts, rituals, customs and objects that establish it and enable it to differentiate itself from other groups. Identity may refer to the nation to which an individual belongs, or to one's gender or culture. It also appears to reside in the ways in which peoples come to talk about themselves over time.
Identity refers to what is unique or distinctive about an individual or group. Every community constructs its image of itself around symbols, pictures, texts, rituals, customs and objects that establish it and enable it to differentiate itself from other groups. Identity may refer to the nation to which an individual belongs, or to one's gender or culture. It also appears to reside in the ways in which peoples come to talk about themselves over time.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Glass beads, stroud cloth, thread and downloaded copies of the text of the Indian Act (chapters 1 to 5, comprising 56 pages) amended in 1985



the work was completed with the help of over 200 assistants

Artist: Nadia Myre, Photos: Denis Farley, Richard-Max Tremblay, Valerie Walker and Paul Litherland
2000 - 2002
© SODART 2007


With <i>Indian Act</i>, Nadia Myre examines the recognition of Native identity in Canada. With the help of over 200 friends, colleagues and strangers, Myre covered the 56 pages of the federal government’s Indian Act with glass beads. In its original wording this document (which would eventually be amended by Bill C-31 in 1985) ran counter to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allowed a whole segment of Canadian society to be governed by measures characterized by discrimination and exclusion. The beading technique employed by the artist to blur the meaning of this text foregrounds an ancestral skill as a subversive technique used to cancel out the statute and reframe Native identity. On a symbolic level, the work has made it possible for certain participants who only recently reacquired their Indian status through the amendments to the Act to take back a past that had been lost to them.
With <i>Indian Act</i>, Nadia Myre examines the recognition of Native identity in Canada. With the help of over 200 friends, colleagues and strangers, Myre covered the 56 pages of the federal government’s Indian Act with glass beads. In its original wording this document (which would eventually be amended by Bill C-31 in 1985) ran counter to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allowed a whole segment of Canadian society to be governed by measures characterized by discrimination and exclusion. The beading technique employed by the artist to blur the meaning of this text foregrounds an ancestral skill as a subversive technique used to cancel out the statute and reframe Native identity. On a symbolic level, the work has made it possible for certain participants who only recently reacquired their Indian status through the amendments to the Act to take back a past that had been lost to them.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Indian Act, 2000-2002

Artist: Nadia Myre, Photos: Denis Farley, Richard-Max Tremblay, Valerie Walker et Paul Litherland
2000 - 2002
© SODART 2007


Indian Act, 2000-2002

Artist: Nadia Myre, Photos: Denis Farley, Richard-Max Tremblay, Valerie Walker and Paul Litherland
2000 - 2002
© SODART 2007


I am interested in the horizontal line, both as a formal motif and as a symbol of the divisions which separate and bind us: the border crossing from one territory to another, the written text which manifests law, and the barricade which defies it.
With Indian Act, the horizontal line is used as a method of erasing and abstracting parts of Canada's Federal Legislation pertaining to its “Indians.” Monumental in scale, this work consists of sewing over each of the 56 pages of the annotated Indian Act (Chapters 1-5) with red and white glass trade beads. The white beads replace the words and the red beads, the space between them. The overall effect of the beaded page resembles a visual and tactile language, something akin to Morse code or Braille. However, beading the Act also speaks of a socio-political activity; each page is pierced by a needle and like a scar bears the stitch, a reminder of its path across the page, and generations of conditioned and controlled Indian lives. It is from this political standpoint that the piece has become a communal effort, attracting over 230 people to Read More
I am interested in the horizontal line, both as a formal motif and as a symbol of the divisions which separate and bind us: the border crossing from one territory to another, the written text which manifests law, and the barricade which defies it.
With Indian Act, the horizontal line is used as a method of erasing and abstracting parts of Canada's Federal Legislation pertaining to its “Indians.” Monumental in scale, this work consists of sewing over each of the 56 pages of the annotated Indian Act (Chapters 1-5) with red and white glass trade beads. The white beads replace the words and the red beads, the space between them. The overall effect of the beaded page resembles a visual and tactile language, something akin to Morse code or Braille. However, beading the Act also speaks of a socio-political activity; each page is pierced by a needle and like a scar bears the stitch, a reminder of its path across the page, and generations of conditioned and controlled Indian lives. It is from this political standpoint that the piece has become a communal effort, attracting over 230 people to bead in an act of rebellion, rewriting and translation, thus obscuring the Law and rendering it finally illegible.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Nadia Myre is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Montréal. A graduate of Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, she also holds a master’s degree in visual art (Open Media program) from Montréal’s Concordia University. Her work, which combines sculpture, painting, video and writing, has been shown in Canada and abroad. Myre, who is of Algonquin origin, has received the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Award in addition to numerous other prizes.

selected exhibitions
2007 Remix: New Modernities in a Post Indian World, National Museum of the American Indian, New York (United States) 2006 The Want Ads and Other Scars, Urban Shaman Gallery, Winnipeg (Manitoba) 2005 In My Lifetime, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (Québec) [Lee-Ann Martin, curator] 2002 Cont(r)act, Oboro, Montréal (Québec)
Nadia Myre is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Montréal. A graduate of Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, she also holds a master’s degree in visual art (Open Media program) from Montréal’s Concordia University. Her work, which combines sculpture, painting, video and writing, has been shown in Canada and abroad. Myre, who is of Algonquin origin, has received the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Award in addition to numerous other prizes.

selected exhibitions
  • 2007 Remix: New Modernities in a Post Indian World, National Museum of the American Indian, New York (United States)
  • 2006 The Want Ads and Other Scars, Urban Shaman Gallery, Winnipeg (Manitoba)
  • 2005 In My Lifetime, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (Québec) [Lee-Ann Martin, curator]
  • 2002 Cont(r)act, Oboro, Montréal (Québec)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Indian Act

A law dating from 1876 that regulated such matters as the definition of Indian status, the management of land on reservations, and Band membership and governance. Based on colonial law and the British Royal Proclamation, the Act was meant to promote a policy of assimilation. It outlawed traditional Indian practices and denied Indian status to Native women who married non-Indians. The 1985 amendments to the Act were intended to eliminate discriminatory practices stemming from its provisions, restore Indian status to those who had lost it, and give Band councils control over membership issues.
Indian Act

A law dating from 1876 that regulated such matters as the definition of Indian status, the management of land on reservations, and Band membership and governance. Based on colonial law and the British Royal Proclamation, the Act was meant to promote a policy of assimilation. It outlawed traditional Indian practices and denied Indian status to Native women who married non-Indians. The 1985 amendments to the Act were intended to eliminate discriminatory practices stemming from its provisions, restore Indian status to those who had lost it, and give Band councils control over membership issues.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when she made this art piece.

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