The nice™ Roots Artspace
One-of-a-kind works of art inspired by Canada 150 created by Canadian artists were showcased in Roots Canada flagship stores and on roots.com.
WhatIsAdam x Roots Canada Bloor St.
Artist Statement: A Montreal native, Whatisadam (WIA) is one of the city’s best known urban artists. Infused with Canadian imagery, Whatisadam’s style is reminiscent of vintage comics and pop art. While North American wildlife and landscapes are common themes in his work, he often reimagines them to feature elements of urban culture, as seen in his cans of maple ‘sizzurp’ and tattooed ducks. In addition to his wheatpastes and stencils found throughout the city, Whatisadam has a diverse studio practice, including silkscreen prints, large-scale murals, installation work, as well as a proclivity towards using found objects as his canvas. In addition to Montreal, Whatisadam’s work has been found in the streets of New York, Paris, Toronto, Miami, and Mexico City.
The ‘Be Nice; WIA x ROOTS instalment' celebrates 150 years of Canadians 'being nice’. This collaboration between Whatisadam and Roots takes a personal look at the conversation between the street artist and the viewer. In this scene, Whatisadam thanks the viewer for appreciating art, where some might not see it. Here’s to another 150 years of being awesome Canada.
Candace O Bell x Roots Canada Centreville
Artist Statement: Canada is a vast and beautiful country, and with such a diverse landscape. In this artwork, my intention is to pay tribute to the land – the whole of Canada, as well as this specific location, which is unceded, Kanien'kehá:ka traditional territory – and to the creatures who call this country home. As good Canadian critters, the animals in this piece are interacting in various gestures that could be described as “nice.”
The ongoing destruction of natural habitat and abuse of our planet mirrors our broken connection with ourselves – the fractured nature of our psyche, and our denial of soul. To reclaim kindness towards oneself is the first step in remembering what it is to be loved and treated well. It then becomes easier and increasingly more obvious that other beings and places deserve to be treated well, also. We have more energy to direct towards other people and initiatives. Being nicer to others comes more and more naturally.
There is so much we can do to prevent further destruction, and to restore Canada’s beautiful wilderness. The small changes count too, and the more people commit to making these small changes, the more they will add up. Where in your life can you ditch plastic? What are you wanting to buy that could be purchased second-hand? Even if we all simply stopped using plastic straws, avoided products in extraneous packaging, drove less, and stopped leaving the tap on full blast while washing dishes, that would add up. There is always something more that we can each do. And that would be nice. That would be really, really nice.
I’d like to think that my friends here agree. Here’s to another 150 years of a beautiful, and cleaner, Canada. Thank you to Roots Canada for granting me this platform. Be nice to yourself. You deserve it. Now go spread it around.
Elicser x Roots Canada CF Toronto Eaton's Centre
Artist Statement: The piece is called “That’s Nouce.” In Canada we can’t do anything other than be nice. It’s hard to be nice. Canadians are open minded and accepting. Everyday when you leave your home, you are choosing to sit around the “campfire” with all of us. Come and enjoy the campfire there's a seat waiting for you.
Raven Davis x Roots Canada Rideau Centre
Artist Statement: Indigenous contribution to the Canadian government and society has been nice.
Canada is the second largest country by total area in the world and half of it is covered in treaties signed with Indigenous people. Today, there are over 1 million Indigenous people in Canada, over 50 nations and 70 treaties. Without the involvement and treaty negotiations made between the sovereign Indigenous nations, in what is now called Canada, the British Crown and this Commonwealth Nation wouldn’t have a confederation to celebrate.
Beginning in the early 1700’s, the British Crown entered into treaties with Indigenous people outlining, amongst other things, peace and friendship, trade, the rights of Indigenous people and the use of lands that Indigenous people occupied. Although some Indigenous people in Canada question the process of treaties for many reasons such as understanding some were signed under duress or coercion, not to mention their ancestors signing a binding legal document in a completely different language, which they would learn later contained far fewer terms than what was negotiated and have been interpreted by the Crown and the courts very narrowly.
Indigenous people have been nice by honouring their side of treaties signed between them and the Canadian Government.
In fact, Indigenous people have been so nice since the 18th century, they have tolerated the advancement and growth of Canada. Indigenous people have been nice by continuing to sit at the table with the international British government, now known as Canada, and have continued negotiations of land use and Indigenous rights even though Canada has a long history of violence, assimilation and colonization of Indigenous people.
Indigenous people have also been nice by being the ultimate land, water and environment protectors and keepers since before confederation to this very day. From coast to coast, and for the benefit of all Canadians, Indigenous people have been protecting the use of natural resources, working tirelessly to bring awareness to others in way of ceremonies such as Ceremonial Water Walkers to increase the support for clean and accessible water for all Canadians. If we consider what has happened in Canada and acknowledge the massive contribution of Indigenous people to the Canadian landscape, it would be hard to argue that Indigenous people have been anything but nice.
Ilya Viryachev x Roots Canada Robson St.
Artist Statement: Living in Canada means having some of the most gorgeous and powerful nature in your backyard. It is why it is not surprising the transformative effect that nature has on Canadians when we are in its domain. If you have ever gone on a hike, you have experienced the strength of a special community that is created once you are in the wild. All of a sudden, every single person in sight is a friend who will cheer you on, have a fun conversation, help you keep going, or share an energy bar and some water. It is a kind of experience you may not see on the streets but only in nature's domain. This is a truly Canadian way of showing kindness and support in moments of strength and resilience; the kind of nice that takes open-mindedness, friendliness and a good heart.
Having come from Almaty, Kazakhstan at the age of fourteen, it was exciting but also intimidating to enter a new country, not knowing what to expect. It was overwhelming to try to enter numerous communities and groups all at once and integrate into society. I feel privileged and lucky to have come to British Columbia and experience its warm welcome. I have learned a lot of incredible Canadian values and the real definition of being nice is truly close to my heart. Hiking is still one of the activities I enjoy and I love being able to rejoin that community on the weekend and give back the warmth and support that I have been given all along.