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Duane Linklater (Omaskêko Cree, b. 1976)

Sunrise at Cape Spear

Date: 2011
Medium: Digital video (color, silent); 12 min.

Credit Line: Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

Sunrise at Cape Spear documents a performative work in which Linklater approached the complex issue of cultural loss through simple acts of presence in places of erasure. In 2011, he traveled to Newfoundland, where Indigenous North Americans are thought to have first come into contact with Europeans when Norse explorers landed there around the year 1000; nearly a millennium later, in 1829, the island’s resident tribal peoples, the Beothuk, were declared extinct.

Linklater recorded the (notably anticlimactic) sunrise from a rocky shore at Newfoundland’s Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America and the place of earliest dawn on the continent. Following his trip, he repeatedly attempted to update the Cape Spear Wikipedia entry with a sentence about his presence at the site, but his contribution was always removed. The dispute over the relevance of Linklater’s addition to the public record—deemed “article vandalism” by site administrators—underscores the power structures embedded within the process of writing history.

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