Presence of the Past by MC Snow - McCord Stewart Museum


February 28, 2024

Presence of the Past by MC Snow

Press Release

Visual poetry rooted in tradition and the transmission of knowledge

Montreal, February 28, 2024 – From March 1 to August 18, 2024, the McCord Stewart Museum presents Presence of the Past by MC Snow. Presented as part of the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA), the Kanien’kehá:ka artist’s installation immerses the viewer in a space studded with objects from the Museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection as well as contemporary works. MC Snow explored the Museum’s reserves and selected forty objects from which he drew inspiration to create two original sculptures at the centre of the exhibition. Through the emotions and messages conveyed by the Kanien’kehá:ka cultural objects conserved by the Museum, the artist puts forward a contemporary interpretation of the teachings, traditions and know-how transmitted by the objects in the collection. With Presence of the Past, MC Snow wishes to emphasize the importance of researching and preserving Indigenous cultural property, essential to transmitting the knowledge and safeguarding the cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples.

Emotional objects

Some of the cultural assets featured in the exhibition date back to the 14th century. By juxtaposing these objects – mostly of Kanien’kehá:ka origin – with contemporary representations of his reflections on the past, MC Snow explores the visceral emotions he feels in contact with them, drawing attention to the ways in which they convey meaning. Presence of the Past focuses on poetic metaphors relating to truth, care, protection, transmission and memory. These metaphors probe the teachings that emanate from the creation story to form a visual poetry rooted in oral tradition.

“For me, pots have always been objects that carry something. We place things in pots to contain and protect them. The same applies to baby carriers. Just as we carry ideas, we carry our children. These are objects and knowledge that we preserve for the future, and therefore for generations to come. The Girl with the Basket (one of two works by MC Snow in the exhibition) is also a character who communicates ideas through her basket. She communicates them to the children she carries in her baby carrier,” explains MC Snow.

Object photographs

Research and knowledge preservation

The artist’s concern with emphasizing the importance of researching and preserving Indigenous cultural property is reflected in the objects selected by MC Snow and Jonathan Lainey, Curator, Indigenous Cultures at the McCord Stewart Museum. The public will be able to view some forty rarely exhibited cultural items from the Indigenous Cultures collection: pottery, baby carriers, dolls and arrows. For MC Snow, the arrows represent self-preservation and the protection of Indigenous languages and cultures. The dolls embody the stories that Kanien’kehá:ka elders tell their children to explain the world around them. Baby carriers and decorated pots are used to pass on these values and teachings to future generations. The pot fragments are preserved so that their past remains accessible. The artist insists on the importance of treating objects with dignity, because for Indigenous nations, cultural property is more than just an object; it holds the spirits of their ancestors.

“Seven years ago, I embarked on an ambitious project that teamed up the City of Montreal and the Kanien’kehá:ka territory of Kahnawake to address and valorize the theme of truth and reconciliation. I believe that every time we, as a First Nation community, engage in any kind of meaningful way with Tiohtià:ke, it furthers our way on this path of reconciliation and respect. We are, after all, very close neighbours. Through the Peel Street Project, the BACA, and now the McCord Stewart Museum, I take responsibility to accept and uphold my end of the bargain: to engage in a truthful and meaningful dialogue to promote this idea of peace and mutual respect.

If one memory or emotion is taken away from this Presence of the Past, let it be that the spirit it was done in was one of good-minded collaboration, much conversation and opinion sharing, and enthusiastic effort from both sides. This was my desire in this work, to take part in building a new vessel that could carry our hopes and stories into the future. My time with the McCord Stewart Museum has been a turning point in my own personal journey of truth and reconciliation. I hope to pass on and send people home with something good to share,” says MC Snow.

  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum
  • Roger Aziz © Musée McCord Stewart Museum

Exhibition views

“The McCord Stewart Museum’s collections contain objects of great cultural and historical significance to Indigenous communities. Granting access to these collections allows Indigenous artists to reestablish a connection with their cultural heritage, draw inspiration from the creativity of their ancestors, and breathe new life into traditional art forms. Accessible museum collections can foster dialogue and provides an opportunity for cultural exchange, sharing of knowledge, and development of new artistic expressions. By bringing different perspectives together, it can challenge stereotypes, promote cultural understanding, and facilitate a more inclusive and diverse art community.” says Michael Patten, Director General of BACA.

“The McCord Stewart Museum is delighted to begin this first collaboration with the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) with an installation by MC Snow, which brings two of his sculptures into dialogue with Indigenous historical objects from our collection. This exhibition is part of the reconciliation process to which the Museum has been committed for several years, highlighting both the ancestral knowledge and contemporary artistic practices of the First Nations. We hope the public will take advantage of this event to appreciate the vitality and creativity of North America’s Indigenous cultures.”

MC Snow

MC Snow is a multidisciplinary Kanien’kehà:ka artist living in Kahnawá:ke. MC is a graduate of the University of Ottawa fine arts department (BFA). He has been working and exhibiting in Canada and the United States since the 1990s. His mostly sculptural work combines traditional materials and techniques. While reflecting contemporary concerns, his work contributes to preserving traditional artistic value and defending Kanien’kehà:ka cultural identity.

In 2021, MC curated the exhibition Ka’shatsténhsera presented at the Contemporary Native Art Biennial. In 2023, he took part in the Biennale Internationnele Métiers d’Arts et Création in Paris, showcasing Indigenous artists and creators from Quebec. His many ongoing projects include designing street furniture by producing 10 bronze spheres for the City of Montreal’s Rue Peel project, which will officially launch in spring 2024.

Curatorship and production team

An exhibition presented by the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) in partnership with the McCord Stewart Museum

Artist: MC Snow
Curating: Lori Beavis and Michael Patten, Director General and President, BACA
Project Management: François Vallée, McCord Stewart Museum
Conservation: Jonathan Lainey, Curator Indigenous Cultures, McCord Stewart Museum
Graphic Design: Anne-Marie Demers, McCord Stewart Musuem, and David Martin

The Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) wishes to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Quebec (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Fonds d’investissement pour le rayonnement de la Métropole, Secrétariat des affaires autochtones), the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, its presentation partners and its media partners.

Download documents

Press release PDF
Press release WORD

Press images

Object photographs
Exhibition views
Portraits of MC Snow

Activities related to the exhibition

Round Table: Art as a Means of Reappropriating Indigenous Cultural Assets

Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 6 p.m. – Free – At the Museum

On the occasion of the exhibition Presence of the Past, presented as part of the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA), the Museum invites the public to take part in a conversation with artist MC Snow, archaeologist Roland Tremblay and the Museum’s Indigenous Cultures curator, Jonathan Lainey. This round table discussion explores artistic creation, research and preservation as ways of reappropriating Indigenous cultural assets.

Activity, in French, followed by a bilingual Q&A period. Space is limited, reservation required on the Museum’s website.

Saturday Family Workshop: Introduction to Iroquois Pottery

Every Saturday from April 27 to August 17, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Free – At the Museum

For his exhibition Presence of the Past, Kanien’kehá:ka artist MC Snow has designed a family workshop introducing visitors to Iroquois pottery, exclusively at the Museum.

For the launch of this new family workshop, MC Snow will lead the activity and guide participants through the steps to make their own vase, while sharing the importance of pottery in his artistic practice and as a marker of identity for his people.

The workshop will then be facilitated by the Museum’s mediation staff, every Saturday from May 4 to August 17.

Family activity, in French and English. Recommended for children aged 5 and up (parents must be present).

Space limited, no reservation. Registration on the day of the event at the Museum Admissions Desk.

Guided tour of Our Ways: Peel Trail, with artists MC Snow and Kyra Revenko

Saturday May 11, 2024, in French at 10:30 a.m. and in English at 3:30 p.m. – Free – Departure point: 690 Sherbrooke Street West, in front of the Museum

The Museum invites the public to discover the artwork Our Ways: Peel Trail, by Kanien’kehá:ka artist MC Snow and non-Indigenous artist Kyra Revenko.

In 2023, at the end of a collaboration that spanned more than 6 years, the two artists unveiled the first dyads of bronze spheres that tell the story of the encounter and cohabitation of the Iroquoian and European nations on the island of Montreal. The spheres are arranged in dialogue along Peel Street, in groups of two at eleven stations.

The trail was designed following archaeological digs carried out there from 2016 to 2019, revealing the presence of an Iroquoian village before the arrival of the first European explorers.

Space is limited, reservation required on the Museum’s website.

Contemporary Native Art Biennial


Launched in 2012, the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) is a Montreal-based non-profit organization (registered in 2016) that promotes the work of Indigenous artists. The biennial is held every two years, in multiple venues, with each iteration focusing on a specific theme. The event is aimed at an ever-growing audience—Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike—and features both emerging and established artists. Our mission is to promote Indigenous art and to sensitize and educate the public on the cultural issues of the First Nations.


The McCord Stewart Museum


A landmark in the heart of the city for over 100 years, the McCord Stewart Museum sheds light on life in Montreal, both past and present. It bears witness to the history, vitality, creativity and diversity of the communities that make up the city. In keeping with its commitment to decolonization and sustainable development, it creates exhibitions and educational, cultural and community-engagement activities that look at social history and contemporary issues through a critical and inclusive lens. The Museum’s Archives, Documentary Art, Dress, Fashion and Textiles, Indigenous Cultures, Material Culture and Photography collections, containing 2.5million images, objects, documents and works of art, position it as the custodian of a remarkable historical heritage and one of North America’s leading museums.

Indigenous Cultures collection

The Indigenous Cultures collection is composed of over 16,000 archaeological and historical objects covering nearly 12,000 years of history. Eloquent examples of the material culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living primarily in Canada, these items reflect the great diversity and richness of Indigenous cultures.

Museum Opening Hours and Admission Fees

Opening Hours

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Holiday Hours
March break – Monday, March 4:         10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Easter Monday – April 3:         10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fête nationale du Québec – Monday, June 24:         10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Canada Day – Monday, July 1:         10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Adults: $20 | Seniors: $19 | Students (13 to 30): $15 | Indigenous persons: free | 12 and under: free
Wednesday evening: free (Presence of the Past by MC Snow and permanent exhibition) or $10 (2nd floor exhibition).  

$2 discount on online ticket purchases. 

First Sunday of the month: free for Quebec residents.  

The McCord Stewart Museum would like to thank BMO Financial Group for the free Wednesday evenings, and the Fondation J.A. DeSève for the free admission for children 12 and under, and the Rossy Foundation for free admission for teens ages 13 to 17.   

*Free for teens 17 and under with I.D. Valid until June 30, 2024, for general public visits only. Group rates apply for organized groups and groups of more than 15 people. 

*Free for children 12 and under for a maximum of 3 children per adult. Valid for general public visits only. Group rates apply for organized groups. 

Logo_Conseil-Des-Arts-Canada mccord_conseil-des-arts-de-montreal_CAM_logo-70px