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Local Artist Behind Manitoba 150 Time Capsule

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The stainless steel Manitoba 150 time capsule. Darren Sakwi

One hundred years from now, Manitobans will be admiring the handiwork of Niverville artist Darren Sakwi. That’s because Sakwi, who creates sculptures out of stainless steel, was the artist chosen to create the physical time capsule that marks the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Manitoba joining the Confederation, as well as the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of Manitoba’s Legislature.

As a way to commemorate this moment in history, the time capsule was filled with 75 objects before being sealed for the next century. Items in the container include a cell phone, a face mask, letters from government officials, items that represent Inuit, Métis, and First Nations cultures as well as the advancement of women’s rights, and one mystery object that will remain secret until the capsule is opened in 2120.

As planning for the capsule was underway, a representative of the Legislature approached Sakwi to ask if he had the ability to create something unique for a ceremony.

“I jumped at the opportunity and offered to not only build the capsule but to feature some type of artwork,” Sakwi says.

Sakwi has been using stainless steel to create art since 2012. While he doesn’t have official training in the art, he has already had sculptures displayed in public. His piece “The Gathering” can be seen at 287 Broadway in Winnipeg, and “Sky Spirit” was installed at the Sage Creek plaza in 2018.

“I don’t push my art career, I just let it run its own course,” says the artist. “So when I’m approached with projects such as this, I definitely accept the challenge.”

He was given some basic guidelines for the project, such as size and a need for the container to be airtight. He opted to use a simple design with one-eighth-inch brushed-finish stainless steel, with important dates, the province’s crest, and the Manitoba 150 logo etched on one side.

The top of the box also features the images of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, recessed and painted blue.

Sakwi says this project felt fitting for him as a person with an Indigenous background. He says he continues to learn about his background and enjoys using his art as a form of education.

Unlike many capsules, this one will not be buried and possibly forgotten. Instead it’s on display at the Manitoba Legislature for people to view until it’s opened.

When it is opened, one of the 75 items that future Manitobans will find is a biography of the artist. Knowing he won’t be around when the capsule is opened, Sakwi finds it exciting to know that people will be handling his artwork and reading his biography in the next century.

“It’s exciting to know one hundred years from now people will read all the documents contained inside, including my bio,” he says. “Knowing I won’t live to 141, I hope that before I pass I add more of my artwork around our beautiful province.”

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