Painting by Percy Sacobie called “Glooscap and the Giant Beaver” finds home in departures lounge
Indigenous and community leaders gathered today at the Fredericton International Airport to celebrate the installation of a major piece of artwork by nationally recognized and local Wolastoqiyik artist, Percy Sacobie.
Commissioned by the City of Fredericton, and on permanent loan to the airport, the colourful piece is entitled “Glooscap and the Giant Beaver.” Located in the departures lounge of the airport, it features acrylic paint on Masonite and is comprised of six 4 ft. by 8 ft. panels, for an overall dimension of 8 ft. high by 24 ft. wide.
In addition to the City and airport involvement, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery provided support for the planning and installation of the artwork.
As the first and last impression for many visitors to New Brunswick, the Fredericton International Airport sought to ensure that its newly expanded airport terminal imparted a sense of place and showcased the immense talent of our region.
In consultation with the airport and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the City commissioned Mr. Sacobie to create a work of art which would bring this sense of place to the departures lounge of the airport
The painting depicts an important cultural hero of the Indigenous Peoples of Atlantic Canada. It recalls how Glooscap, who is looked upon as hero and deity figure, helped the Wolastoqey Nation outlast floods and make their land more hospitable many thousands of years ago by destroying a huge beaver dam at the mouth of the Wolastoq (Saint John River), and shrinking the giant beaver to its present size. The tale has been shared orally for more than 300 generations and the painting will help keep that story alive.
Percy Sacobie is a multi-disciplinary artist who skillfully weaves his heritage, cultural traditions, and stories into his creative expressions. A proud Wolastoqiyik from Sitansisk / St. Mary’s First Nation, Percy has been making art for over 30 years in varied media such as painting, drawing, digital media, and carved wood.
Percy began carving while studying under Ned Bear at Fredericton High School. He later earned diplomas in Aboriginal Visual Arts and Graphic Design at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, followed by a Bachelor of Arts from St. Thomas University and both a BEd and MEd from the University of New Brunswick. With a tight, sophisticated style that fuses tradition with technology, Sacobie is creating an authentic language uniquely his own within Eastern Indigenous artists.
“The City of Fredericton values and cherishes its friendship with Sitansisk. It is crucial to share that the Wolastoqiyik culture be recognized and celebrated. By working together, I am confident we will achieve a better tomorrow for everyone. I wish to personally congratulate Mr. Sacobie for this exemplary and creative piece of artwork. Woliwon for all the work you have poured into this piece. Your ancestors would be proud.” -Mayor Kate Rogers, City of Fredericton
“The Fredericton International Airport is grateful to be the home of this incredible painting by Wolastoqiyik artist Percy Sacobie. The airport is more than a building, we are the gateway to our community and the first and last impression for visitors to our Capital Region, and we are so pleased to showcase the vibrant indigenous culture of this region through the work of this talented artist. Woliwon Percy, for sharing your talent with us.”-Johanne Gallant, President and CEO, Fredericton International Airport Authority
“Percy Sacobie's monumental painting of Glooscap grounds us in the rich culture and history of the Wolastoqiyik, who have called this river valley home for over 10,000 years. It also speaks to a deep reverence for community. After several decades of honing his art, Percy is selflessly giving back as a beacon of creativity and support for so many. Honouring his late mentor, Ned Bear by making exquisite visual art that honours the past while embracing contemporary visuals, Percy's art helps us see why this place matters.”-John Leroux, Manager, Collections and Exhibition, Beaverbrook Art Gallery
“As my dad used to quote, if your name is attached to something, you best be making sure you do a good job.” -Percy Sacobie, Artist
The artwork commission was announced on July 26, 2021. The idea for the commission had been contemplated for over two years prior to that. A working group was established by the airport to look at local art that would bring a sense of place to the airport’s newly expanded terminal. A major work by a prominent Indigenous artist was conceptualized. The working group consisted of staff from the City of Fredericton, Fredericton International Airport and Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
As Mayor Kate Rogers said in 2021, “the commission is meant to recognize and celebrate the culture of the Wolastoqiyik people, who have lived for millennia on the lands along the Wolastoq (Saint John River). We are committed to strengthening our relationship with Indigenous Peoples and commissioning this artwork is just one step among many we intend to take.”